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What Can Cause Driver Fatigue?

Of all the kinds of driver negligence possible, driver fatigue is one of the riskiest because it often goes undetected. Unfortunately, fatigue behind the wheel can mimic the impairment experienced by drunk drivers and is, therefore, exceptionally dangerous. If a drowsy driver leaves you injured in a traffic accident, don’t delay consulting with an experienced Lawrenceville car accident lawyer

Drowsy Driving Is a Serious Problem

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds us that we are not in control of when sleep will overcome us, which makes driving under the influence of exhaustion especially dangerous. Having too little quality sleep can affect drivers in many ways, including:

  1. Drowsy drivers are less capable of paying adequate attention to the road.
  2. Drowsy drivers experience slowed reaction times. 
  3. Drowsy drivers have a more difficult time making good decisions. 

None of these bode well when it comes to driving safely and avoiding car accidents. Drowsy driving continues to be a risk on the roads, and the CDC shares the following sobering statistics:

  1. About one in 25 drivers over the age of 18 self-report having fallen asleep behind the wheel in the 30 days prior. 
  2. Drowsy driving is estimated to have played a pivotal role in 72,000 traffic crashes that led to 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths in a recent year (but drowsy driving is believed to be woefully underestimated). 

Too Little Sleep

One of the most common causes of driver fatigue is simply getting too little sleep. Only the driver knows if he or she has had enough sleep to safely maneuver a vehicle through traffic, but if he or she hasn’t, it is that driver’s responsibility to make the right choice and not drive. 

Failure to Adhere to Hours-of-Service Restrictions

Truck drivers and other commercial drivers are professional drivers who operate massive vehicles and whose negligence puts everyone else on the road at increased risk of injuries in serious truck accidents. This is why there are strict guidelines that truckers must adhere to, including careful hours of service requirements. When truck drivers – and the trucking companies that employ them – put profits before safety and drive beyond the hours-of-service restrictions – or push their drivers to do so – life-threatening accidents are often the result.  


Some medications leave those who take them drowsy, and they come with safety warnings on their labels. When motorists ignore these warnings, they make our roads less safe for everyone on them.   

Shift Work

Shift work, such as factory work and many medical positions, can also contribute to the problem of driver fatigue. Long shifts and/or night shifts can interfere with workers’ sleep and can lead to dangerous drowsy driving.

Untreated Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders can leave those afflicted exhausted – even when they get plenty of sleep. Sleep apnea, for instance, can cause a person’s breathing to stop and start while sleeping, which leads to poor sleep quality and which can contribute significantly to dangerous drowsy driving. 

Driver Responsibility

Ultimately, motorists are responsible for ensuring that they are safe to get behind the wheel. Making the decision to drive with too little sleep, when under the exhausting influence of certain kinds of medications, or when affected by a sleep disorder is a dangerous decision that amounts to driver negligence. If a drowsy driver leaves you injured in a car accident, obtaining the damages to which you are entitled is critical to your ability to recover, and a dedicated car accident lawyer can help. 

Pay Attention to the Warning Signs

If you’re behind the wheel and experience any of the following, it’s a warning sign of exhaustion that you should pay attention to:

  1. If you find yourself yawning or blinking frequently, it’s important to understand that it is your body’s way of fending off sleep. 
  2. If you have difficulty remembering driving the last several miles, it likely means that your exhaustion is interfering with your ability to pay attention. 
  3. If you miss your exit, it means that something is interfering with your ability to concentrate, and it may well be driver fatigue. 
  4. If you catch yourself drifting out of your lane or hitting a rumble strip on the shoulder unexpectedly – you shouldn’t be on the road. 

If you experience any of these warning signs, don’t wait to see if they improve or worsen – it’s time to either pull off the road or change drivers. 

Addressing the Issue of Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a serious danger on our roads, but there are straightforward steps that you can take to help ensure that you don’t become a dangerously drowsy driver, including:

  1. Get the sleep you need. The general consensus is that the majority of adults need at least seven or eight hours of sleep a night. If you are clocking in at five or six hours, it is time to take stock of your sleep habits. Sticking to a sleep schedule can help.  
  2. If you feel drowsy even after eight hours of sleep, you may have a sleep disorder that you should discuss with your doctor. 
  3. Always check the label on any medications that you take, and if there is a warning regarding operating heavy machinery or becoming drowsy, it is your responsibility not to get behind the wheel. Further, it’s important to recognize that different medications affect people in different ways, and a new medication could leave you unexpectedly drowsy – even if there is no warning on the label.

An Experienced Lawrenceville Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

If another driver’s fatigue leaves you injured in a car accident, the damages you face are likely to be considerable, and obtaining just compensation is likely elemental to your ability to fully recover. The trusted Lawrenceville car accident lawyers at Spaulding Injury Law have impressive reserves of experience helping clients like you recover on their full scope of physical, financial, and emotional damages, and we are here for you, too. 

To learn more about how we can help, please don’t wait to contact us online or call us at 678-541-8841 today.