DRIVER FATIGUE AND CAR ACCIDENTS
SIMPLE WAYS TO AVOID A COMMON FACTOR IN CAR ACCIDENTS
The Ft. Lauderdale car accident lawyers of MADALON LAW have seen many car crashes due to driver fatigue or being exhausted behind the wheel. Even though we appreciate having new clients, we would prefer seeing people drive safer and not get in a car crash they could have easily avoided if they were just more alert when the accident was occurring.
Driving Fatigue is what happens when a person’s physical and/or mental exertion impairs their performance. Driver Fatigue can be a result of strenuous activities (work-related and/or non-work related), extended work hours, a lack of adequate sleep or a combination of two or more of these factors.
If you are planning to travel a long distance or sometimes find yourself drowsy behind the wheel, here are some easy steps you can take to avoid driver fatigue and getting into an accident:
- Sleep: It may seem simple enough, but it is too common in our busy lives to go about our day with not enough sleep. This is usually not a life and death matter, but it could be when you are behind the wheel. Studies show that there are actually natural drowsy times for the human body. These drowsy times are between the hours of 12 AM – 6 AM and 2 PM – 4 PM and can seriously impair a driver’s response time if they were to encounter a dangerous situation on the road. Research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows that driver alertness was more related to “time-of-day” than “time-on-task.”
- Avoid medication that may cause drowsiness: Medications that are prescribed may be easy enough to identify due to the warning labels on the bottles, but a less obvious medication is cold medicine. If you have to drive with a clod, make sure to take the non-drowsy version. Also, make sure that the drowsy version you may take at night is taken with enough sleep time allowed so you don’t wake up still feeling the effects of the night-time cold medicine.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Remember that food is fuel. Skipping meals or eating at irregular times may lead to food craving and fatigue. Fatigue caused by food cravings can include slow reaction time, reduced attention and awareness, changes in mood and reduced ability in judgment.
- Naps: Ideally 45 minutes, but a minimum of 10 minutes, research shows that short naps are more effective than coffee when needing to restore energy levels.
- Alertness tricks don’t work: Studies show that old tricks like smoking, loud radio, sudden caffeine intake and opening the window do not work in waking a person who may feel drowsy behind the wheel.
- Be aware of the signals: If your eyes become heavy, your vision blurs or you begin to frequently yawn, then you need to be aware that these are the signs of driving fatigue.
Still, think sleep doesn’t matter? Research shows that being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent – the same driving ability of a legally intoxicated driver.