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What is fatigued driving, and why is it dangerous?

Driving while fatigued is a common yet dangerous practice that significantly increases the risk of accidents on the road. It occurs when a driver operates a vehicle while feeling excessively tired or sleepy, impairing their ability to make quick decisions and react appropriately to sudden hazards.

This condition can result from inadequate sleep, extended hours of driving without sufficient breaks, irregular sleep patterns or certain medical conditions. The dangers of fatigued driving are often underestimated, leading to many road accidents each year that could have been prevented with better awareness and self-regulation.

The danger of fatigued driving

Fatigued driving directly affects a driver’s ability to pay attention to the road, process information and react appropriately to sudden changes. The slower reaction time, decreased vigilance and impaired decision-making abilities make fatigued drivers a significant hazard on the road.

A fatigued driver may fall into a microsleep. When this occurs, they lose consciousness briefly without even realizing it. A five-second microsleep can lead to a vehicle going the length of a football field if it travels 55 miles per hour.

Causes of fatigued driving

Lack of sleep is a primary cause of fatigued driving. Chronic sleep deprivation can occur when a person doesn’t get adequate sleep over a long period. In some cases, the results of fatigue are similar to driving while impaired.

Medications and medical conditions significantly contribute to fatigued driving, often impairing a person’s ability to stay awake and alert while on the road. Certain medications, including over-the-counter and prescribed drugs, have side effects such as drowsiness and decreased attention span, directly affecting driving performance. Antihistamines, sedatives and some blood pressure medications are common culprits.

Medical conditions such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and chronic insomnia disrupt standard sleep patterns. Individuals with these conditions may struggle to maintain alertness while driving.

Victims of drowsy driving crashes can suffer catastrophic injuries. They will likely need medical care, which is a costly endeavor. Seeking compensation from a fatigued driver is possible, but this must be done swiftly because of legal time limits in South Carolina. Working with a legal representative who can assist with this process can help to speed it up and better ensure a favorable outcome.