It is estimated that driver fatigue accounts for about 20% of serious and fatal accidents and is roughly 33% of all accidents involving a single vehicle. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the number of accidents related to driver fatigue is approximately 100,000 per year, with 71,000 injuries, 1,550 deaths, and $12.5 billion in losses. These approximations could potentially be higher, as the reporting of accidents related to fatigue is difficult to track.
While you might think driver-fatigue-related accidents are only limited to long distance truck drivers, you would be wrong. These types of accidents can occur whether you are driving a short distance or a long distance. Fatigue is not caused by driving, in most cases. Rather, there are other underlying causes for the driver already being tired and getting behind the wheel.
There are several underlying causes for fatigue, such as stress, sleep disorders, driving when you would normally be asleep, and not getting plenty of quality sleep. In addition, fatigue can be the result of working long hours. Common symptoms can include:
- A lack of concentration
- Drifting off to sleep
- Erratic driving
- A general soreness, stiffness, or cramping
- Problems keeping eyes open
Fatigue impacts a person’s driving abilities because it causes them to react more slowly, much like driving while impaired. Driving after being awake for approximately 17 hours is the same as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05. Driving without having slept in 24 hours or longer is similar to having a BAC level of 0.10, which is considered double the legal alcohol limit in many states.
The best thing to do if you are fatigued and notice you are having problems driving is to pull off the road and find somewhere to get some rest, either in a hotel, your home, or the sleeper in the back of your truck. It is also recommended that you stop every few hours to take a 15 minute break from driving.
To help avoid distractions while you are driving, make sure your seat is comfortable. If it is not, consider replacing it with custom truck seats, seat covers, or seat cushions from Suburban Seats by calling 844-SAS-SEAT (844-727-7328) today.