After years of repeated campaigns to confront drunk drivers and educate the public, it is now finally widely accepted that driving drunk is dangerous. But many people still don’t realize that driver fatigue can be just as dangerous. In fact, driving after staying awake for 24 hours is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.10 – an intoxication level that constitutes a criminal offense when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Fatigued driving causes many car accidents in Raleigh, throughout North Carolina, and across the country. This needs to become better known, so that concerted efforts to prevent such accidents can take shape.
Driver fatigued is already an issue for government regulators when it involves big rig drivers who make long hauls. Federal regulations place limits on the number of hours that large truck drivers may drive. The reason for this is simple: to cut down on the number of truck accidents caused by fatigue.
Does it really make sense that there are limits for commercial drivers but not for non-commercial drivers? Fatigue can strike anyone who doesn’t get enough sleep, no matter what type of vehicle he or she drives.
And there are a lot of people out there on the road who are sleep-deprived. Fatigue is a common problem among shift workers and those who suffer from sleep disorders.
Feeling sleepy, groggy, or exhausted are all signs of driver fatigue. Frequent yawning, irritability, and concentration problems are a good indication that fatigue is kicking in.
Driver fatigue can result in crashes because it causes problems with steering, ignoring lanes, or falling asleep and waking after a few seconds – an occurrence known as microsleep.
Making this problem more dangerous is the fact that many drives fail to recognize the dangers of fatigue. If a driver finds himself or herself daydreaming, weaving in and out of lanes, yawning incessantly, or having slow reaction time, he or she should take it as a warning sign of driver fatigue. Additional clues include tired or sore eyes, stiffness, and not being able to remember the last few minutes or seconds of a trip.
The only cure for driver fatigue is sleep. This means that drivers who recognize these symptoms or signs should take a break from driving and get at least six to nine hours of sleep. Additionally, drivers should avoid alcohol and heavy meals before driving, try to break up longer trips into shorter driving periods, or share the driving with someone else. On the road, drivers should be sure to stay hydrated and take at least one break every two hours when driving long distances.
In other words, personal responsibility is an important factor in prevention fatigued driving accidents. Society must also do a better job of insisting on that responsibility and holding accountable drivers who are not.