On any given day, we all have to make critical judgment calls that affect our safety and overall well-being. For example, you can choose to take the stairs or the elevator when going up to another floor at work. You can choose the healthy salad or the greasy burger when you go out for a meal.
You can also choose to rest before getting behind the wheel, asking someone else to drive or make a dangerous decision by driving while feeling exhausted. Many people mistakenly assume that as long as they aren’t texting while driving or getting behind the wheel after drinking, they aren’t doing anything dangerous on the road.
However, fatigued, drowsy or exhausted driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, driving when you feel overly tired does have some of the same physiological effects on your body as impairment from drugs or alcohol.
Fatigued driving is similar to drunk driving
Driving a motor vehicle requires focus, attention to detail and constant monitoring of your environment. When there are factors that limit your mental acuity, you could face an increased risk of a collision. Adequate sleep is a necessary component for driving at full capacity.
Much like driving after a few drinks, driving when you have gone 16 hours or more without sleep can prove a dangerous decision. When your body becomes exhausted, your brain doesn’t work optimally. Instead, you will have a hard time focusing.
You may even struggle to stay awake. If there is a sudden change in traffic conditions, your reaction time will be longer than it would be in other circumstances. That means that although there is no chemical test to prove fatigue or exhaustion, as there is with drunk driving, people should be aware that driving while tired increases their risk on the road.
Just because a driver wasn’t drunk doesn’t mean they should have been on the road
There is a popular belief that, provided someone is not actually under the influence of an intoxicating substance, it’s always safe to drive. The truth is that driving is a skilled task that requires great focus. A driver doesn’t have to be drunk to perform sub-optimally behind the wheel of a car.
They only need to be tired enough to have difficulty with executive functioning or higher brain processes. Although the law enforcement officers who respond to an accident will probably test the individual who caused the crash for drugs and alcohol, they have no way of testing for exhaustion.
If you believe that the other driver wasn’t fully awake based on their behavior immediately after the crash, that could be a reason to sit down with a personal injury attorney and discuss what options you may have for pursuing compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered because of the collision.