Driving while fatigued increases your risk of being involved in a life-threatening auto accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies driver fatigue as the cause of over 100,000 car accidents, 40,000 injuries and 1,150 deaths annually. Knowing the causes and symptoms of driver fatigue and learning effective strategies for preventing this driving hazard could help save your life.
Causes and Effects of Fatigued Driving
A lack of quality rest and long periods of wakefulness are frequent causes of driver fatigue. Fatigue can affect any driver, but night-shift workers, commercial drivers who put in long hours behind the wheel, individuals with undiagnosed sleep disorders and those taking prescription medications are at greater risk.
Once fatigue settles in, a driver is less aware of what's happening around them. Judgment and decision-making abilities are impaired, and reaction times slow. As fatigue and drowsiness increase, a driver may lapse into short periods of "micro-sleep" when they might veer off the road or collide with another vehicle.
Symptoms of Driver Fatigue
Watching for these warning signs can help you recognize that you're fatigued:
- Difficulty focusing and inattentiveness
- Repeated yawning, head bobbing and inability to keep eyes open
- Feeling restless, irritable or impatient
- Disconnected or wandering thoughts
- Brief lapses in memory or "zoning out"
- Drifting to the shoulder or the adjacent lane
- Shallow breathing, burning eyes and back tension
- Abnormal driving behavior, such as inappropriate speed, tailgating or ignoring traffic signs
Driving Tips to Prevent Fatigue-Related Crashes
You can lower your risk of a crash that puts your life in peril by getting plenty of rest and keeping up a regular sleep schedule. Try to avoid driving alone and traveling late at night. If you start to see any signs of fatigue, pull off the road in a safe, well-lit area and take a nap. On long road trips, take a break every two hours and keep the temperature down inside the car.
Knowing the symptoms of driver fatigue can't always prevent an accident or collision. If you need to fix vehicle damage caused by a fatigue-related crash, contact us at Gerber Collision & Glass.