Driver fatigue is a major factor in causing road crashes, but it’s difficult to measure and often ignored as a cause. While seemingly not as stigmatized as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driver fatigue happens all too frequently.
The problem is serious enough when one analyzes the research and statistics. With over 55,000 driving fatigue accidents each year in the U.S., it is estimated that fatigue plays a role in up to 30% of fatal crashes and 15% of serious injury crashes. Research indicates that not sleeping for over 17 hours is the same as having Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.05. Not sleeping for over 24 hours is the equivalent of a BAC of 0.10, which is greater than the legal limit.
Driver Fatigue and Drunk Driving
Drunk drivers are obviously dangerous because their reaction time slows, their judgment is impaired, and their concentration is diminished. The same problem occurs when a driver is fatigued. As a driver begins to feel drowsy, it takes longer to process information and react. When it happens, drivers can fall asleep in a vehicle that’s hurtling down the road at high speed. The worst times of day for driver fatigue are in the morning between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., and in mid-afternoon around 2 p.m.
Consequences of Fatigued Driving
There’s always a risk of collision on the road, but it’s much worse if a driver is fatigued. Fatigue increases the odds of an accident, an injury, or even death. Not only could a fatigue-related crash have dire consequences for the driver, but it could also result in an injury to others. If the driver was negligent serious criminal and civil liability is possible. Driver fatigue can lead to accidents and charges of recklessness, manslaughter, or vehicular homicide.