Driver Fatigue: A Growing Problem on our Nations Roadways

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Deadly Consequences of Driver Fatigue on our Nation’s Roadways

Drivers face many obstacles when driving on public roadways.  Some of these obstacles include road construction, damaged roadways, traffic jams, inattentive drivers, wildlife, weather, and many other unforeseen circumstances.  In addition, driver fatigue is becoming an increasingly deadly cause of traffic accidents.  The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that automobile accidents caused by sleep deprivation cause 40,000 injuries and 150 deaths each year.  The following are three of the most significant contributing factors to driver fatigue.

Driver Fatigue Caused by Lack of Sleep

One of the main causes of driver fatigue is the lack of necessary sleep.  In today’s society people are living life at a faster pace than ever before.  The demands on the working class are becoming more and more difficult to meet as each year passes.  As a result of this increased speed of life, full and adequate sleep in being severely restricted.  The average individual is being forced to forgo sleep to work and make up for income lost as the result of the economy, increased family wants/needs, and the rising cost of living.  This results in many drivers operating their vehicle while extremely tired and fatigued.

This can be seen in black and white in the tractor trailer industry.  Many drivers of trucking companies are paid based upon the number of miles traveled.   A driver operating under this payment structure receives no compensation when they are sleeping or taking breaks.  For this reason, many truck drivers ignore mandatory breaks and sleep requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.  The failure to obtain enough sleep prior to driving can produce similar reaction times as those of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

It is advisable that drivers think ahead and take necessary precautions prior to embarking on their journey.  If you are attempting to make a long trip which will require extended hours of driving, make sure to plan ahead to get enough sleep to safely operate your motor vehicle throughout the entire trip.  Failure to begin your journey fully rested places yourself and other drivers in a great deal of danger.

Driver Ignorance of Fatigue Symptoms

Drivers operating vehicles without enough rest are often oblivious to the warning signs of driver fatigue.  Knowledge is power, and if you notice any of the following symptoms while driving you should immediately pull off the roadway and assess your ability to continue safely operating your motor vehicle: excessive yawning, feeling impatient, daydreaming while driving, feeling stiff, heavy eyes, and delayed reaction times.  It is vital to remember that self awareness of the causes and symptoms of driver fatigue is the only means of correcting the problem. 

Driver’s Failure To Take the Steps Necessary to Correct Driver Fatigue

If you notice that you are suffering from driver fatigue, there are several techniques you should use to ensure you are safely operating you motor vehicle.  First and foremost, driver fatigue is the result of your body telling you it is worn out and needs a break.  There is no substitute for sleep.  The best remedy for driver fatigue is rest.  This should be undertaken if possible.  Drivers should also ensure they are taking frequent breaks.  Pulling your vehicle over and taking a short walk will temporarily restore proper blood flow to your body and increase alertness. 

Drivers should plan ahead to allow time for frequent breaks while driving long periods of time.  Drivers should also avoid becoming too comfortable.  A driver can crack a window to allow cold air to move through the vehicle, adjust seat settings to a more upright position, and stay hydrated.  These actions may increase alertness and improve a driver’s ability to focus on the task at hand, for a very limited time.  Please remember that driving at night or in a rain storm often compounds driver fatigue and increased attention to driving conditions is required.

The growing problem of driver fatigue is wreaking havoc on innocent drivers.  The motoring public drivers need to be involved in the community’s interest in solving this growing problem.  Drivers who have been injured as the result of a tired or fatigued driver should immediately contact an experienced personal injury attorney in their area.  A personal injury lawyer will be able to immediately preserve evidence that an individual may not know how to do. 

It is important to send a message to the community that this behavior is not acceptable.  If you have been injured by a fatigued driver, or would like more information on this topic, please call personal injury lawyer Christopher Dixon toll free at 1.866.869.2590 or 1.314.409.7060, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Christopher offers free consultations on the phone or in his office and he can also be reached by email at [email protected].