How Does Fatigue Affect Driving?
According to the CDC, drowsy driving is most common among those who have not had enough restful sleep, though it can also occur among those who work night shifts, use drugs and/or alcohol, or have undiagnosed sleeping disorders like sleep apnea.
It goes without saying that falling asleep behind the wheel is extremely dangerous. But fatigued driving can still profoundly affect one’s ability to safely drive a passenger vehicle or commercial truck.
Drowsiness behind the wheel can:
- Affect a driver’s ability to concentrate on the road and other vehicles.
- Slow reaction times in the event that a driver has to brake or maneuver suddenly.
- Impact a driver’s ability to make sound decisions regarding when, how, and if to operate.
How Do I Know if I am Driving Tired?
If you are tired and spend too many hours behind the wheel, there is nothing you can do to prevent fatigue from affecting driving. This is why truck drivers are required to comply with mandated Hours of Service Requirements to ensure that they stop work to get the rest they need.
The following are common driver fatigue symptoms to watch out for when you are behind the wheel:
- Frequent yawning or blinking.
- Difficulty remembering driving the past few miles.
- Drifting in and out of your lane.
- Missing an exit.
- Running over a rumble strip on the side of the road.
Truck Driver Fatigue Statistics
The following driver fatigue statistics for trucks come from theFederal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Large Truck Crash Causation Study.
|Factors||Number of Trucks||Percent of Total||Relative Risk|
|Vehicle: Problems with Brakes||41,000||29%||2.7|
|Driver: Driving Too Fast for Conditions||32,000||23%||7.7|
|Driver: Unfamiliarity with Roadway||31,000||22%||2.0|
|Environment: Problems with Roadway||29,000||20%||1.5|
|Driver: Over-the-Counter Drug Use||25,000||17%||1.3|
|Driver: Inadequate Surveillance||20,000||14%||9.3|
|Driver: Felt Under Work Pressure||16,000||10%||4.7|
|Driver: Illegal Maneuver||13,000||9%||26.4|
|Driver: External Distraction||11,000||8%||5.1|
|Vehicle: Problems with Tire||8,000||6%||2.5|
|Driver: Following Too Close||7,000||5%||22.6|
|Vehicle: Cargo shift||6,000||4%||56.3|
|Driver: Internal Distraction||3,000||2%||5.8|
|Driver: Illegal Drugs||3,000||2%||1.8|
Of the 19 truck accident factors listed above, 15 are driver-related accident factors. While driver fatigue is a factor unto itself, driving tired can also lead to or exacerbate some of the other factors listed.
For example, driving fatigued can lead to inattention. If a driver is stressed to make a deadline, he or she may be more willing to try and combat their fatigue through the use of illegal drugs.
Driving Tired Affects Everyone, Not Just Truckers
Driver fatigue is not just a trucker issue; drivers of passenger vehicles are also at risk for drowsy driving, especially if they use medication that makes them sleepy, have sleep disorders or are shift workers.
- According to multiple surveys conducted by the CDC, one out of every 25 adults over the age of 18 reported that they had fallen asleep behind the wheel in the last 30 days.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that driver fatigue is responsible for more than 800 deaths per year.*
- Other studies have indicated that driver fatigue-related crashes may cause thousands of deaths every year.**
Call (855) 948-5098 or contact us online for more information.
* Based on average of two years of NHTSA drowsy driving data
** See: Masten SV, Stutts JC, Martell CA. Predicting daytime and nighttime drowsy driving crashes based on crash characteristic models. 50th Annual Proceedings, Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine; October 2006; Chicago, IL.
Klauer SG, Dingus TA, Neale VL, Sudweeks JD, Ramsey DJ. The Impact of Driver Inattention on Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Study Data, 2006; Springfield, VA: DOT; year. DOT HS 810 594.