New research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has included that drowsy driving or fatigued driving is a factor in approximately 20% of all accidents. That is much higher than the earlier estimate of 3% of all auto accidents. What’s even more distressing is that more fatigue-related accidents involve drivers in the age group of 18 to 20, than any other age group.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute findings were based on a 100-car naturalistic study as opposed to earlier studies that relied heavily on surveys, and simulation tests.
A common perception is that drivers can overcome fatigue while driving by drinking caffeinated beverages to remain awake and alert. While there may be some short-term benefit, after the effect wears off, a driver is lily to experience “sleep rebound”, putting you at a greater risk. The only way to overcome fatigue is to sleep. Many teenagers have erratic sleep patterns, and sleep may not be a high priority in a teen’s life. With school, sports and all kinds of other activities occupying their time, and friends and social media occupying their afterschool hours, persons between the ages 18 and 20 may schedule little time for sleep, with dangerous results.
Moreover, there are biological changes that occur when a person steps into adolescence that shifts the sleep patterns to a later hour. However, the teen is still waking up at the same hour every day, which means that he is getting less sleep than he used to before.
Another very important finding that emerged from the study was that more car accidents linked to fatigue occur during the daytime than night. That is also in stark contrast to earlier belief that most drowsy driving-related accidents occur mainly at night. It’s obvious that people are driving even during the day in a state of fatigue, very likely because of sleep deprivation that prevented them from sleeping soundly the previous night.
Based on my experience as a Missouri injury lawyer concentrating in representing motor vehicle accident victims, we have found that the most common causes of driver fatigue include the following: 1)lack of quality of sleep 2)extended periods of driving 3)driving during times we are usually sleeping.