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Common Characteristics to Determine Driver Fatigue

Road crashes are a result of a number of reasons, which can influence the outcome of an accident case. The cause of a collision can dictate its severity and the degree of property and physical damage. Fatigued driving is a main cause of car accidents with the NHTSA attributing 846 fatalities to accidents caused by drowsy drivers in 2014. The same risk that comes with driving while intoxicated applies to driving when drowsy. Vehicles are systemic machines that require operators to be in their best states of mind during use. Sleepiness diminishes that capacity on different fronts. When handling an accident case caused by drowsy driving, an personal injury lawyer needs to prove a driver was not performing optimally. For this reason, learning some of the traits of a fatigued driver helps a great deal.

Individuals at High Risk of Drowsy Driving

Fatigued driving sometimes is not intentional, and a driver may end up in a vehicle collision without even knowing it. A fatigued motorist is one who has not had sufficient sleep or is too tired to stay awake. Even when a driver doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel, being sleepy alone makes it difficult to maintain concentration on the road. Some people are at more risk of ending up in these situations than others, and these are the elements a personal injury attorney in will consider.

Commercial Drivers

People who operate commercial vehicles like trucks, buses, and trailers have a high probability of experiencing drowsiness while on the road. These drivers have to drive hundreds of miles, sometimes across states, without getting decent sleep. The sleep deprivation coupled with the exhaustion of operating such heavy machinery are high-risk factors.

Shift Workers

Job-related sleep restriction is another characteristic of a fatigued driver. A person who has to work an extended shift (day plus night) is most likely not getting sufficient rest. Medical personnel, firefighters, and pilots are some of the professionals who have irregular work schedules. Shift work tends to interrupt sleep cycle, which can cause disorders such as daytime sleepiness and insomnia. Someone coming off a night or double hour shift and has to drive may not have full concentration on the road.

Side Effects from Drugs

Another characteristic that an personal injury attorney will look at when determining fatigued driving is the use of sleep-inducing medication. Drugs that have sedative effects such as cough medication and antidepressants can reduce the response capability of a driver.


A certain age group, specifically 30 years and below, has a high risk of drowsy driving according to the NHTSA. Males of this age group are particularly susceptible to falling asleep at the wheel.

Untreated Sleep Disorders

When investigating driver fatigue in a car accident case, the possibility of an untreated sleep condition is one avenue to explore. Obstructive sleep apnea and narcolepsy are some of the conditions that increase the chances of a driver experiencing drowsiness while at the wheel. If an individual has not received the necessary medical treatment for a specific disorder, then he/she becomes a danger on the road.

How Fatigue Impairs Performance

Every driver implicitly agrees to maintain a duty of care when using any road in New York City. However, driving while drowsy can cause a breach of this duty. For one, an overly exhausted or sleepy driver will have trouble processing informational, meaning he/she may not register road signs and traffic signals accurately. The reaction time of a sleepy driver is reduced significantly, which makes it difficult to stop, swerve, or brake in time to avoid a serious collision. Fatigued drivers also have diminished vigilance, and that increases the possibilities of crashing into stationary objects or other vehicles.

An average adult has to sleep a minimum of 7 hours to function optimally. Loss or restriction sleep contribute to drowsy driving, which has grown into a major problem. A big issue with fatigued driving is that it’s not possible to measure the degree of exhaustion or sleep like authorities do with alcohol and drugs. Another reason fatigued driving is a primary concern is that vehicle operators don’t usually take any measures to avoid collisions like swerving or braking due to slowed reaction times.

A victim of an accident caused by a drowsy driver may be liable for compensation. Whether it’s a single or multiple car crash, it’s prudent to contact an personal injury law firm for professional assistance.

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