Safely and responsibly driving a car requires both skill and concentration. Skill is obtained with practice, but concentration often hinges of the level of alertness of the driver. Lacking either skill or concentration can result in a serious car accident that causes significant injuries. Appropriate concentration allows a driver to perceive, anticipate, and respond to hazards and other dangers on the road that could impact safe driving, and the absence of concentration is known to greatly increase the risk a driver will miss a key issue or make a bad decision. Distractions are one way in which drivers lose this attention to the road, but another one that is harder to control, and likely an issue for every driver at some point, is fatigue. Fatigue can hit a driver at any point during the day, but is most prevalent at night, when more concentration is required to make up for the lack of visibility on darkened roads.
Fatigue can cause a driver to lose control, crossover into traffic, or hit parked cars, a situation that was tragically played out in southern Illinois when a tired Tennessee man left the road and overcorrected. His actions caused the car to hit a guardrail, injuring one passenger and killing another. Everyone is potentially at risk for driving in this situation, and understanding what the effects of fatigue are, as well as the legal consequences if an injury occurs, is important information for all drivers.
The Effect of Fatigue on Driving
Everyone knows what it feels like to be extremely tired, and many people know what the experience of intoxication is. Depending on how much time has elapsed since the driver last slept, extreme fatigue can produce the same behavior observed in drivers with 0.08 blood alcohol levels, the amount legally considered drunk driving. Any notable level of fatigue will slow reaction times and impair a driver’s ability to process information. Further, fatigued drivers may not be aware of how tired they really are, and engage in microbursts of sleep, lasting four to five seconds, that can easily lead to serious accidents.