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Fatigue Causes Motor Accidents: Vancouver Lawyers Discuss

Driving while fatigued is a serious threat to road safety. And unfortunately, it is also very common. In an ICBC survey, 30% of respondents admitted that they have nodded off while driving. Fatigue can be caused by too few hours of sleep the night before or it can be the result of chronic sleep debt (lost hours of sleep that accumulate over time). Other factors contributing to driver fatigue include the amount of time spent on the road, the time of day, undiagnosed sleep disorders, and the use of medications or alcohol.


Vancouver motor accident lawyers know that driver fatigue is a major factor in crashes. Evidence shows that a fatigued driver can be as dangerous as a drunk driver. Despite the similarities in the effects of sleep loss and alcohol on driving performance, many who would never drink and drive think nothing of driving while exhausted. Fatigue has a serious, negative impact on driving ability. It slows a driver’s reaction time, reduces how far a driver can see, and decreases a driver’s awareness of his or her surroundings. Even a slight decrease in reaction time can greatly increase the risk of crashing, especially when travelling at highway speeds. 


Vancouver lawyers: Motor accidents due to fatigue peak in spring and summer
As we move into the spring and summer months, fatigue becomes an even greater threat to road safety. In fact, driver fatigue-related crashes peak in July and August in British Columbia, with an average of three people killed and 81 injured in each of these months. For that reason, the Vancouver motor accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP decided it was important to discuss the signs of fatigue, some of the risk factors for fatigue, and strategies for keeping alert behind the wheel. 


Signs of fatigue 
You may be fatigued if you experience any of the following while driving:

  • Inability to recall driving the last few kilometres;
  • Not noticing a vehicle until it suddenly passes you;
  • Yawning, daydreaming, or blinking frequently;
  • Weaving or drifting from your lane;
  • Missing your exit;
  • Heavy feeling in your eyes or difficulty keeping your head up; or
  • Feeling your vehicle’s tires go over the rumble strip on the side of the road.

People do not always recognize when they are fatigued. You may feel awake, but if you are tired you could fall asleep at any time, causing a motor accident. 


Vancouver lawyers discuss risk factors for driver fatigue 
Accident data indicates that the most at risk for fatigue are drivers who:

  • Have varied work hours (shift work);
  • Drive through the night; 
  • Drive long distances without breaks;
  • Take medication which causes drowsiness or drink alcohol (or both);
  • Drive alone; or
  • Suffer from a sleep disorder.

That being said, everyone is at risk for driver fatigue at one point or another, as fatigue can be caused by simply getting too few hours of sleep the night before. Here is some startling proof that even slightly less sleep can impact alertness and awareness: traffic accidents increase by about 7% in the spring when drivers lose just one hour of sleep due to daylight savings.


Strategies for keeping alert behind the wheel
The best ways to avoid fatigue behind the wheel are to start out well rested and to avoid driving during the night when you would normally be asleep. 


Read labels carefully before taking medication and do not drive if the label says the drug may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Keep in mind that this applies to medication that you regularly take, as well as medication you may take as a one-off (for example, if you have a cold, allergies, or headache). 


You should also take rest breaks every 1.5 to 2 hours to avoid fatigue. When you take a break from driving, get out of the vehicle, walk around and get some fresh air. If you are taking a longer trip, consider sharing the driving with a passenger to reduce your risk of getting fatigued. You should also be aware that if you are making a multi-day driving trip, the second day of driving is usually when tiredness is most likely to affect you.


Ultimately, if you feel tired or drowsy, it is best to not get behind the wheel in the first place. If you are already on the road and feel drowsy while driving, switch drivers or pull over somewhere safe to take a 15 minute nap. 


Do you need a Vancouver motor accident lawyer?
The team of Vancouver motor accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP frequently represent plaintiffs who have been injured by fatigued drivers. We have the skills to investigate the accident, gather evidence of fatigue, and build a strong personal injury claim for you. Contact us at 1-855-852-5100 for a free initial consultation at any of our 13 locations.


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