While the dangers of fatigued driving are well understood, they're often ignored. Virtually all respondents to a recent AAA poll referred to the practice as completely unacceptable. However, almost a third of them also admitted to recently getting behind the wheel while dangerously fatigued. Data like this is especially concerning to road safety when Pennsylvanians move their clocks forward by one hour to mark the beginning of daylight saving time.
While losing one hour of sleep may seem little more than an inconvenience, a study from the American Automobile Association suggests that it could greatly increase crash risks. Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety say that drivers require at least seven hours of sleep to operate a motor vehicle safely, and they claim that losing just one or two hours of rest can nearly double the chances of being involved in an accident. According to the AAA, motorists who get behind the wheel after sleeping for five hours or less are as dangerous to other road users as drunk drivers.
The problem is particularly challenging for safety groups because most of the techniques employed by drivers to fend off fatigue simply do not work. Opening a window, turning up the stereo or drinking a cup of coffee have a limited effect and provide only temporary relief. According to experts, only sleep can counter drowsiness. Otherwise, the brain will eventually override any attempts to stay awake.
Motor vehicle crashes often leave road users catastrophically injured. If the at-fault party in an accident was a drowsy driver, legal action may be warranted. Legal counsel could help a crash victim file a claim for damages.