Fatigue and Drowsiness Responsible for Nearly 1,500 Fatal Accidents Each Year

sleeping driver wreck

A typical situation where a driver takes a few over the counter pills and gets behind the wheel can turn deadly due to the effect of drowsiness on appropriate response times. Every year thousands of drivers are killed because of drowsiness – a seemingly innocent condition.

Sleepy driver behind the wheel. Whoever is taking the photo should be more concerned for their own safety.

“Tiredness and drowsiness contribute to nearly 40,000 non-fatal accidents and over 1,500 fatal accidents each year.”

City Dwellers Have it Worse

Many people work long hours and often don’t make it home until the late evening – especially city dwellers that put up with insane traffic conditions.

Driving while tired, fatigued or even drowsy slows the reaction time required to respond to a sudden road complication. People make nothing of the fact that this sort of behavior kills others, yet studies have shown that the effect of driving while tired is similar to that of intoxication.

NHTSA reports that fatigue, tiredness and drowsiness contribute to nearly 40,000 non-fatal accidents and over 1,500 fatal accidents each year.

Blame Accidents on Overworking and Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep is the primary factor that is blamed for accidents caused by a shutting eye. Young and older drivers alike lack sleep due to inherent lifestyles and tend to crash the most in the late hours of the evening. Younger male drivers, especially ones who work different shifts are significantly prone to accidents due to tired eyes.

Even though not all accidents are caused directly by the drowsy driver, many are a result of indirect incapacity to respond quickly to a dangerous conditions on the road.

Americans in particular have a lifestyle that encourages work over sleep, thus creating conditions that result in auto accidents.

High Speeds and Slow Reaction Times

Fatigued drivers are typically in the car alone – without anyone there to let them know that they look too tired to drive and shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

The combination of high speeds on the highways and slowed reaction times often leads to truly messy fatal accidents.

When injuries are non-fatal, the vehicle typically drifts off into another vehicle or runs a red light – hitting another vehicle on the side.

Simple Lifestyle Changes to Avoid Crashes

  • Get plenty of sleep – if you feel that you’re too tired day in and day out perhaps more sleep is necessary.
  • Take naps – don’t be ashamed that your body needs extra rest as it ages. Some studies even encourage napping as part of a healthy sleep routine. If you’re too tired or feel that your eyes may close while you’re driving, do yourself and others a favor by taking a short nap before getting behind the wheel.
  • Find someone else to drive you – if napping or sleeping more is not an option, figure out if someone else can get you to and from work. Consider public transportation or carpooling. Perhaps your carpool friends are more rested in the mornings or evenings than you are and could get you to and from work safely.


Default Driver Alert Systems Not here Yet

Perhaps some day we’ll have mandatory driver alert control systems built into all vehicles, but that day is not here yet. Nevertheless, an interesting video:

When you’re injured by a driver who failed to take precautions to avoid driving while sleepy or fatigued, you may be eligible for auto accident compensation. We like to think that people are looking out for themselves and others on the road, however this isn’t always the case. More great tips can be found on the National Safety Council fact sheet.

Image courtesy of Flickr (sleepy driver.)

Vibhu Talwar is a Los Angeles car accident attorney who represents people all over Southern California.

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