Nowadays, we are very aware of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, and it is undoubtedly a foolish person who takes a risk on the road after one too many. But what about the dangers of being in charge of a vehicle while fatigued? With increasing evidence highlighting the risks of driving when suffering from tiredness, 'fatigue driving' is a problem that should be firmly on our to avoid list.
Why Is Driving When Tired Dangerous?
It is now understood that there is a similar risk of being involved in a severe road accident from being overly tired as there is from drinking excess alcohol. But public perception and attitude to fatigue driving are not comparable, many of us will still get into our cars and drive even though we are exhausted and know this isn't a safe thing to do.
According to the Department of Transports and Main Roads, being awake for seventeen hours at one go has an effect on the body's performance similar to having a blood alcohol count of 0.052%. At twenty hours of being awake, the impact on performance is the same as twice the legal blood alcohol legal limit.
Driving in these conditions can put us at serious risk of harming ourselves and others as well as breaking the law. Exhaustion significantly impairs our psychomotor and cognitive abilities and negatively impacts the critical skills that we rely on when driving such as decision making, concentration and coordination.
There are specific categories of motorists that are more susceptible to the dangers of driving while tired. Many younger drivers who have only recently passed the driving test and are still relatively inexperienced may be more at risk. Also, teenagers and young adults have different sleeping patterns and may be awake much later at night but still need to get up early. Another group that can face the perils of fatigue driving are long distance truck drivers. Sleep deprivation and exhaustion can result from hours on the road, irregular sleep and a lot of night driving.
What Should I do if I have An Accident While Driving When Tired?
If you have suffered because of an accident due to fatigue driving, it is essential that you get some sound legal advice from trustworthy lawyers. Their services will guide you through the law and make sure you get the help you need.
There are several ways to avoid excessive tiredness when driving, especially on a long journey:
- plan out the trip and build in appropriate rest stops and overnight stays if necessary
- regularly stop to recharge, a good rule is fifteen minutes for every two hours of driving
- if you start to feel at all tired, stop immediately in a safe spot until you are rested
- have enough before you set off but not too much, this can make you sleepy!
- if possible, share the driving
- drive in regular daytime hours, not at times when you would usually be sleeping
Don't be fooled by these common myths about tiredness while driving:
- coffee will wake you up
- music will keep you alert
- winding the window down will perk you up
These will only mask the signs of fatigue temporarily and in fact, may give you a false sense of confidence when driving and encourage you to proceed when you should rest
Common things to look for in other drivers are yawning and frequent blinking, veering momentarily or briefly closing eyes. As a passenger, sometimes it's easier to see the signs before the driver is aware. In any case, if it's you or another driver, as soon as tiredness hits, it's time to take a break before a serious accident occurs.
If you have been affected by a road accident and need some legal advice, Preston Law can help. Our experienced lawyers have been assisting clients for over twenty years with all matters concerning the law.
Preston Law is locally based, and our lawyers are here to guide clients in Cairns and Far North Queensland through any legal matter.
Contact our team of lawyers today to find out more about our legal services.