Drowsy Driving Statistics - The Dangers of Fatigued DrivingUpdated Dec. 14, 2020
Most people accept being tired as a normal part of their hectic, day-to-day lives. Tiredness rarely prevents us from fulfilling our regular daily tasks, such as working, going to school or seeing our friends, so we do not assume that it should stop us from driving to and from these activities. Sadly, driving while fatigued can be a fatal mistake.
Being tired does not compromise the safety of a person sitting at a desk or having lunch in a restaurant, though it very much endangers a person in charge of a moving vehicle – and every other road user nearby! A fatigued person cannot function at their best; vision, judgment and reaction time are all impeded. Experiencing these mild impairments while driving makes it much more likely you will be involved in an accident or collision. You do not necessarily have to fall asleep at the wheel to be injured or killed as the result of driver fatigue.
The impact of drowsy driving
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash statistics indicate that in 2015, roughly 90,000 crashes involved a drowsy driver. Of these crashes:
- 56,000 resulted in property damage only
- 33,000 resulted in at least one person being injured
- 736 resulted in at least one fatality
The drowsy drivers involved in these incidents were either asleep at the wheel or known to be driving while sleepy or fatigued. This is according to their own statements or the statement of another person who witnessed their condition prior to the crash.
Without such statements, it can be extremely difficult to determine whether the driver was fatigued when the collision occurred, especially if they did not live to tell the tale. Frighteningly, that means that these figures represent a minimum number of crashes that can be attributed to driver fatigue in 2015. The true number of injuries and deaths caused by tired drivers is likely to be much higher.
Studies have shown that being awake for 18 hours – which is not an uncommon occurrence for many people – can affect a person’s driving ability as much as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. Driving safely when fatigued is impossible, even for the most skilled and responsible drivers out there. The more fatigued you become, the poorer your reaction time will be and the less likely you are to see hazards on the roadway in time to act.
Operating a vehicle while tired at any time of the day is dangerous, though fatigue presents a substantially greater risk to motorists and other road users at night. Even if you feel relatively alert and are dosed up on coffee, you will be fighting your body’s instinctive desire to sleep, simply because it is dark. Driving at night requires a greater degree of alertness and concentration than driving during the day, as visibility is poorer and the presence or fatigued or drunk drivers on the road is more likely. If you yourself are tired, your ability to spot and react to these night time driving hazards will be severely limited.
The dangers of driving while fatigued are significant and complex. Fortunately, the cure for driver fatigue is simple: as soon as you realize you are not as alert as you should be, pull your vehicle over to a safe spot and get some rest!
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