The Dangers of Driving Fatigued

Most automobile drivers have experienced the feeling of falling asleep while driving but are thankfully startled back to full consciousness by the sudden realization that they were falling asleep at the wheel. Fatigue plays a major role in motor vehicle accidents on Missouri roadways and across the nation, regardless of the age or vocation of the driver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that as many as 100,000 car accidents are caused by fatigued drivers each year, resulting in 71,000 injuries.

The National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll in which 60 percent of American drivers reported feeling drowsy while driving; 37 percent admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel. Even more alarming, the NHTSA estimates that 95.9 percent of fatigued or drowsy driver accidents involve operators of passenger vehicles.

According to the National Safety Council and the NHTSA, alcohol consumption is the greatest cause of fatigue. Nearly 20 percent of all fatigue-related, single-vehicle crashes involved drivers who had consumed at least some alcohol. Many fatigued drivers also include shift workers, truck drivers who report receiving on average less than five hours of sleep per night, people on prescription medications that cause drowsiness, individuals who are driving long distances, and those drivers with untreated or undiagnosed sleep disorders.

The signs of driver fatigue include:

• Drifting between lanes

• Not recalling the last few miles

• Constant yawning

• Burning eyes

• Jerking the car back into the correct lane

These are danger signs that you should pull in to the next available rest stop, restaurant or other commercial establishment to take a break. If you must keep driving, then drinking coffee, a light snack and buying some gum to chew while you are driving are measures that can help keep you alert for short periods, but they are not nearly as effective as a nap.

You can avoid fatigued driving by planning your route so that you arrive at particular designations where you can rest. You should refrain from taking any medications that may make you drowsy, such as antihistamines or antidepressants. If you will be driving late at night or for an extended amount of time, try not drink alcohol. Late-night driving also exposes you to other fatigued or drunk drivers.

If you have been injured in a car accident involving a fatigued driver, don't hesitate to contact an experienced Kansas City personal injury attorney who will protect your rights and obtain for you the compensation you deserve.