Fatigued driving or drowsy driving is a serious problem in Ontario and throughout North America. It is estimated that tired driving is a factor in up to 21 percent of motor vehicle accidents resulting in approximately 400 fatalities and 2,100 serious injuries each year. This means fatigued driving is the third highest cause of traffic accidents. A good deal of research has been conducted on the impact of fatigue on driving ability.
Lack of Sleep Increases Risk of Accidents
U.S. based AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has conducted a great deal of research on fatigued, drowsy, and tired driving. In a recent study, AAA found that missing just one to two hours of sleep doubles your risk of being in a traffic accident. If you get less than four hours of sleep, you have 11.5 times the risk of being in a crash compared to someone who got seven or more hours of sleep.
In addition to studies on lack of sleep, studies have revealed that tired driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. In one study, drivers who had been awake for 18 hours had the same problems driving as someone with a .05 blood alcohol content (BAC). Being awake for a full 24 hours is like driving with a BAC of .10.
Sadly, drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, but many people do not realize this fact. A tired driver can fall asleep while driving without any warning. This can be extremely dangerous when driving at high rates of speed or in high-traffic situations. Unfortunately, there are no laws against drowsy driving. Individuals must take steps to prevent tired driving by getting enough sleep and recognizing the signs of tired driving.
Signs of Tired Driving
A substantial number of Canadians polled admit to tired driving and even falling asleep while driving. It is important to know the signs of tired driving so you can reduce your risk of being involved in a fatigued driving accident.
Signs of fatigued driving include:
- Not remembering what happened while driving the past few kilometers
- Drifting into the other lane
- Yawning and having difficulty keeping your head up
- Confusion, wandering thoughts, and daydreaming
- Driving too slowly
- Frequently blinking or closing your eyes
- Breaking too late or almost running stop signs or signals
If you believe you are too tired to drive, you need to find a safe place to stop. Rolling down the window, turning up the radio, turning on the air conditioner, or drinking coffee or soda will not wake you up sufficiently to safely operate your vehicle.
Drivers who are at a higher risk of tired driving include:
- Shift workers or employees who work the night shift
- Students, especially students with part-time jobs
- Individuals who take medications that cause drowsiness
- Anyone with an untreated sleeping disorder, such as sleep apnea or insomnia
- Commercial truck drivers or travel bus drivers
- Business travelers who suffer from jetlag
It is also important to remember that you may not experience any symptoms or signs of fatigue before falling asleep at the wheel. If you have not gotten the recommended number of hours of sleep, you should consider allowing someone else to drive.
Call an Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
If a drowsy or fatigued driver injures you, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact the team of lawyers at Diamond and Diamond by calling our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or by visiting our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations.