Driver Fatigue and Crashes

The dangers of drinking and driving are well known. The vast majority of drivers will tell you that they would never consider driving while impaired. Few people however realize that driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous.

Sleep deprived driving is a major contributing factor in accidents in North Carolina and across the United States. According to a study performed by the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, approximately 250,000 people fall asleep while driving every day. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 crashes and 40,000 injuries annually are due to sleep deprived driving.

Sleep deprivation affects driving ability in several different ways. It slows reaction time, impairs judgment and effects coordination. Much like the consumption of alcohol, fatigue can affect vision, information processing and performance.

There are warning signs of driver fatigue. They include:

  • Feeling sleepy, groggy or exhausted
  • difficulty keeping eyes open
  • Excessive yawning
  • Slow reaction time
  • Driving over the center line or off to the shoulder

Driving while fatigued is especially dangerous when it involves commercial truck drivers. Given the size and weight of these vehicles, the potential for injury is greatly increased. Nearly 1/4 of all passenger vehicle traffic fatalities involve collisions with trucks.

In an effort to curtail the number of accidents due to driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration requires that commercial drivers operate a truck or bus no more than 10 consecutive hours before resting for minimum of 8 hours. Commercial truck drivers are also required to undergo a physical examination annually in order to maintain their license. These physical examinations may help diagnose underlying conditions such as sleep apnea which may contribute to these accidents.

As with any serious accident, and early and thorough investigation is necessary to ensure full compensation to the victims. Investigating driver fatigue related accidents involving commercial drivers includes reviewing driver logbooks, event data recorders (if available) and interviewing witnesses. In appropriate cases accident reconstructionists may be necessary to determine the sequence of events which led to the accident.

If you've been seriously injured in an accident caused by a fatigued driver, let us assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve. As always, consultation is free and there are no legal fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf.