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Why fatigued drivers increase everyone’s risk on the road

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accident

Most people know that it is dangerous to drive after drinking or taking certain medications. The average person also recognizes how risky it can be to become distracted while driving. The average motorist does their best to avoid known safety hazards like chemical impairment and distraction. That being said, some drivers engage regularly in behavior that can be as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Many people experience regular fatigue or exhaustion. They don’t get enough sleep and work long hours. They then drive themselves and their family members places despite their sense of fatigue. Exhausted drivers endanger themselves and others because of how they are drowsiness affects their driving.

How does fatigue affect driving ability?

Perhaps the most obvious risk associated with drowsy driving is the possibility of a motorist falling asleep at the wheel. It only takes a second for someone to swerve out of their lane and potentially cause a crash. The more exhausted someone is when they get behind the wheel, the more likely they are to fall asleep while driving. Even if someone manages to remain conscious, their fatigue could affect their safety on the road.

The longer someone goes without adequate sleep, the more their fatigue affects their capabilities. People who feel exhausted may have a hard time making decisions or staying focused in traffic. They may have longer reaction times because they have difficulty monitoring their surroundings. Drowsy drivers display levels of impairment similar to drunk drivers if they have gone 20 hours or more without sleep.

As a final note, the way people try to address their fatigue can also be dangerous. Drowsy drivers who rely on caffeine might ingest too much and become jittery and anxious on the road. They could also put themselves at risk of a medical emergency due to caffeine over-consumption in some cases.

While drivers can’t prevent others from driving when they feel exhausted, they can prioritize getting adequate rest themselves. In cases where drivers suspect that fatigue may have contributed to a crash, they may have grounds to hold another driver accountable for causing a collision. Pursuing compensation through insurance claims or lawsuits can be beneficial for those hurt by the unsafe behavior of others in traffic.