Driver Fatigue and Crashes

The dangers of drunk driving are well established. The risks of distracted driving and cell phone use and driving are well known.distracted driving

There is increasing public awareness of the combination of fatigue and driving being another potentially dangerous problem. It may take only a second or two of decreased awareness or being asleep and a crash may occur. Drowsy driving leads to thousands of vehicle crashes each year.

Consequences of a crash caused by a fatigued or sleep deprived driver can be particularly serious in terms of death or injuries because a fatigued driver may make no attempt to avoid a crash.

A NHTSA study reports that sleep is a neurobiological need with predictable patterns of sleepiness and wakefulness. The loss of one night’s sleep can lead to extreme short term sleepiness. Habitually restricting sleep by one or two hours per night can lead to chronic sleepiness.

Features of driving impairment associated with fatigue include reduced reaction time, attention and information processing.

Warning signs may include difficulty remembering the last few minutes or miles driven, the vehicle drifting, forgetfulness, slowed reaction time, or consumption of alcohol when tired.

Persons at risk include truckers and others working long shifts, people who work and go to school, who don’t get enough sleep and cumulative sleep loss. Drowsy driving crashes predominantly occur after midnight.

It was reported that Maricopa County paid $1.2 million to two injured individuals, involved in a Chandler car crash with a sleep deprived Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy.