The Dangers of Fatigued Driving


One of the most common causes of car accidents is driver fatigue. In fact, drowsy driving is just as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs since fatigue can also impair your motor skills, reaction time, vigilance, and judgment while on the road. 

Common warning signs of drowsy driving include: 

  • Yawning 

  • Constantly blinking 

  • “Nodding off” or having difficulty keeping your head up 

  • Drifting from lane to lane 

  • Missing an exit, road signs, or turns 

  • Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road 

  • Unable to remember driving the last few miles 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a study shows that approximately one in 25 adult drivers reported having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days. The National Highway Traffic Safety said that drowsy driving was a factor in 91,000 collisions—leading to nearly 800 deaths and about 50,000 injuries—in 2017. 

The National Safety Council (NSC) claims drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision if they are drowsy behind the wheel. Falling asleep for four or five seconds while going 55 miles per hour (mph) is like traveling the length of a football field blindfolded. 

The following are the common contributing factors to drowsy driving: 

  • Drivers who get less than seven to eight hours of sleep each night 

  • Commercial drivers who operate semi-trucks, buses, and other large vehicles 

  • Workers who work long shifts or graveyard shifts 

  • Drivers with certain medical conditions, such as sleep disorders 

  • Drivers who use medications that make them drowsy 

Fatigued driving accidents occur most frequently from midnight to 6 a.m., or in the late afternoon. During these times of the day, there is a dip in our circadian rhythm, which is the bodily function that regulates sleep. 

Drowsy driving crashes typically involve only a single driver (and no occupants) running off the road at a high rate of speed without braking. These collisions often occur on highways and rural roads. 

Here are several tips to prevent fatigued driving: 

  • If you are an adult, you need at least seven hours of sleep per night. Additionally, teenagers must get at least eight hours. 

  • Create a sleep schedule and stick to it. 

  • Avoid driving from midnight to 6 a.m. and the late afternoon, which are peak sleepiness periods 

  • Avoid drinking alcohol or taking medications that make you drowsy. Check the label of your medications to see if drowsiness could result from their use or speak to your pharmacist. 

  • If you are feeling tired throughout the day or snore at night, you may have a sleep disorder. Schedule an appointment for your doctor to check if you have an untreated health condition and learn about your treatment options. 

  • If you plan to take a long road trip, make sure you get a good night’s sleep before your journey. 

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver in Arapahoe County, CO, call the Law Office of Joseph A. Lazzara, P.C. at (720) 809-8262 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Also serving clients in Denver, Adams, Jefferson, and Douglas Counties!