There are a number of different causes of motor vehicle accidents in Ottawa. One of the more prevalent causes is driver fatigue. The Northwest Territories Department of Transportation reports that approximately 500 Canadians die each year as a result of accidents caused by driver fatigue. Below we will look at the nature of driver fatigue, why fatigue can be so dangerous, and some safety tips that Ottawa drivers can follow to avoid being involved in serious accidents.
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Fatigued Driving Is a Serious Problem
Fatigued driving presents a serious risk for drivers in Ottawa and throughout Ontario. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, approximately 26% of all accidents that result in injuries and fatalities are related to fatigued driving. Other statistics suggest that as many as 167,000 Ontario motorists have been involved in at least one accident involving a fatigued driver in their lifetimes.
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Who Is Most Likely to Drive While Fatigued?
There are a number of startling statistics about fatigued driving. Young males are more likely to take the risk of driving while fatigued. Other groups that are likely to become involved in fatigued accidents include motorists who suffer from sleep disorders and motorists who operate vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Lastly, another group at risk of driving fatigued are rotating shift or night shift workers.
How Fatigue Impacts Motor Vehicle Drivers
Fatigue impacts drivers in a number of ways, which include the following:
- Decreased awareness. If a person is fatigued, he or she becomes less aware of the surroundings, which can lead to deadly accidents. For example, a fatigued driver likely would not see a deer, moose, or other wild animals that had wandered into the road.
- Impaired judgment. It is vital that drivers have normal functioning brain activity when operating a vehicle. Fatigue, however, can impact a driver’s decision-making and lead to unfortunate results. For example, a fatigued driver might head the wrong way down a one-way road or otherwise end up in a location that has a high likelihood of a resulting motor vehicle accident.
- Slowing reaction times. Drivers with delayed reaction times are not able to respond as promptly to conditions that can arise on the road. Delays frequently result in catastrophic car accidents. For example, a fatigued driver might not see a vehicle that stops suddenly in front of him or her with enough time to brake safely.
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The Signs of Fatigue
While a separate section of this article reviews additional safety precautions, the following piece of wisdom is worth citing twice: Drivers should be able to recognize the signs of fatigue. This way, after drivers become aware of fatigue, they can take steps to get off the road and avoid accidents. Some of the most common physical symptoms associated with fatigue include:
- Delayed reactions
- Missing signs in the road
- Tired eyes
There are a number of characteristics commonly associated with fatigued driver accidents. These accidents most commonly involve head on collisions, rear end collisions, night time accidents, collisions that occur on higher end speedways, and incidents that involve the driver as the sole vehicle occupant.
Fatigued driver accidents, however, can and do occur anywhere. Consequently, all drivers should be aware of the dangers fatigue can cause.
Advice to Avoid Accidents Due to Fatigue
There are several important precautions that drivers can take to avoid fatigued driving accidents, which include the following:
- Avoid alcohol and drugs even if you are not intoxicated when operating a vehicle. This is because these substances can depress the human body and result in the sensation of sleepiness.
- Be cautious when taking prescription medications. A number of medications can result in the user feeling fatigued and should not be combined with vehicle operation.
- Drive only if you are adequately rested.
- Find a safe place to stop your vehicle if you feel fatigued. This is the best possible way to respond if you begin to feel tired while on the road.
- If it all possible, drive with a friend. This way, in case fatigue kicks in, a companion can take over driving responsibilities.
- Limit driving during the drowsy times of 2 pm to 5 pm and 10 pm to 6 am. Even if you are not fatigued, driving a vehicle during these hours places you at a much greater risk of being on the road at the same time as dangerous fatigued drivers.
- Maintain a cool temperature inside of your vehicle.
- Stay alert to conditions that can arise suddenly on the road. Many times, fatigued drivers notice dangerous conditions but fail to brake promptly enough to avoid an accident.
- Understanding that coffee and energy drinks frequently only last for a limited period of time, after which a driver feels more fatigued than before.
Vehicle Safety Features Impacted By Fatigue
Fatigue impacts a number of vehicle safety features that we rely on to avoid accidents. For example, delayed reaction times frequently mean that drivers will not be as prompt to press on the brakes, which can result in a vehicle’s inability to stop in time. If a motorist is not able to stop in time, brake safety features are of little to no value.
Other safety features including smart headlight features can also be negatively impacted by fatigue. While these headlights are capable of making difficult-to-spot objects more visible, drivers who do not have appropriate response times will still not able to respond to objects that appear in the road suddenly.
Even features like advanced collision warnings are substantially decreased in value if drivers are fatigued and not able to respond in time.
Given the impaired functionality of vehicle safety features when combined with fatigue, it is vital for drivers to understand that if they are fatigued, there is little that will be able to save them if they are likely to become involved in an accident.
Speak with an Experienced Accident Lawyer
Accidents caused by fatigue can result in a number of serious injuries as well as fatalities. If you need the assistance of an experienced accident lawyer, do not hesitate to contact Preszler Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.