People wake up early for work, rush to get their kids to school, and otherwise drive when they may be dangerously tired. Unfortunately, we often overlook the dangerous part when we get behind the wheel with heavy eyes and difficulty focusing. Whether a person is working odd shifts or simply traveling overnight, drivers frequently push themselves too hard.
We do not tend to think of these actions as “illegal.” They are, however, incredibly dangerous on the road. It can be hard to imagine drifting off into another lane or failing to see a pedestrian soon enough to stop, but these catastrophes happen to thousands of people every year. Do you know how to recognize when you are too tired to drive?
The Drowsy Driving Problem
Any collision may lead to fines and penalties including jail time or community service. Of course, drinking and driving, distracted driving, and drowsy driving are incredibly dangerous, and if these issues contribute to an accident, it may lead to litigation and compounded penalties. Though this is true, many people fail to take fatigued driving seriously. According to a study conducted by AAA:
- 33% of polled drivers reported difficulty keeping their eyes open while driving within thirty days before the study.
- Approximately 40% of participants fell asleep at least once while driving.
- 17% said they had fallen asleep behind the wheel, at least, three times, with 10% claiming they did so within the previous year.
These statistics demonstrate how prevalent the problem is, but these results are based on self-reported instances of drowsy driving. Real-world instances of drowsy driving are likely far more common. This does, however, give us an idea of how many people drive when they are exhausted. When people drive in this condition, it can lead to disastrous accidents. For example, tired drivers struggle with:
- Slow reaction times. A tired driver reacts slower, which makes fatigue a particularly deadly problem.
- Impaired judgment. The effect of drowsy driving on one’s judgment is comparable to intoxicated driving.
- Situational awareness. Debris on the road, sudden turns, and other obstacles may need to be avoided with a split second decision. Sleepy drivers are less likely to see these problems in time to react.
- Distraction. Lapses in attention are a serious problem on the road. Even if a person looks down for one second, traveling at 55 mph, he or she would cover 20 yards. That is plenty of time for something to go wrong, whether another car suddenly slows down or a pedestrian crosses in front of you.
Do Not Drive with These Signs of Fatigue
There are a few obvious signs that you are too tired to drive. Though you may be late for work or up against a deadline, these symptoms put you and others at increased risk of a fatal accident:
- Excessive yawning
- Difficulty supporting your head
- Rubbing your eyes
- Struggling to focus
- Struggling to concentrate on the road
- Anxiety or irritability
- Lapses in memory
- Trouble keeping track of time
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should pull over and rest. Turning on the A/C or rolling down windows during cool weather can briefly refocus a driver enough to find an adequate stop. Pausing to stretch or eating a light, healthy snack can increase your reaction time and keep you safe when traveling.
Consequences for Negligent Driving in West Virginia
A person may not expect as harsh a penalty as a DUI, but negligent driving, which includes fatigue or distraction, can lead to serious consequences. If you have been involved in one of these collisions, your or the other driver’s insurance may not cover property damage, ongoing treatment costs, and pain and suffering. If this is the case, explore your options with an experienced West Virginia car accident attorney. Contact the team at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC to schedule a free consultation or for more information on the dangers of distracted driving and how you can seek compensation.