Most people do not think of tiredness as risky. People who would never get behind the wheel after having a drink think nothing of driving when short on sleep. They would be surprised to learn that, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there is not much difference between these two behaviors.
Extreme sleep deprivation
Extreme tiredness presents the most obvious dangers. A driver running on fewer than five hours of sleep has an increased chance of falling asleep while driving, resulting in a complete loss of control. A high level of sleep deprivation can also seriously impair physical coordination, vision and judgment. While falling asleep at the wheel of a sedan is bad enough, the population most likely to drive without sleep consists of truck drivers. Not only does the size and weight of large rigs amplify the consequences of a collision, but hectic schedules and job pressures make truck drivers more likely to continue driving when exhausted.
Even moderate lack of sleep is risky
Even a driver who is missing only one or two hours of sleep can suffer serious effects. The problem here is that motorists are less likely to understand the dangers even moderate tiredness presents. Insufficient sleep can cause blurry vision, slowed reflexes and cognitive impairment. On the road, when unexpected hazards can require instant reaction to avert disaster, even slight impairment can cause a crash.
What to do if you are sleepy
The safest thing to do is to not get behind the wheel if you are feeling drowsy, yawning often, blinking or experiencing mental fog. If you begin experiencing these symptoms on the road, your best course of action is to pull over for a rest as soon as safe and practicable. Drivers should also know that some medications can induce or aggravate fatigue and sleepiness.
Staying away from drowsy drivers
While you can take precautions to avoid driving when drowsy, you cannot do anything about the many motorists on the road with you who are battling fatigue. Watching out for signs of impairment can help you keep your distance from risky drivers. Some important signs include drifting from the lane, making overly sharp turns and stops and slowness in keeping up with the traffic flow. Drivers engaging in this behavior may be tired or impaired due to some other cause. Either way, this driving is a red flag for potential accidents.
You can do your best to keep safe and still end up the victim of an impaired driver. Especially in a case where a truck is involved, the consequences can be severe. You may find yourself hit with large medical bills, a totaled car and loss of salary, all while dealing with the pain and limitations imposed by serious injuries. A qualified attorney can help you get your bills covered as well as other legal recompense you may be entitled to.