What should students know about fatigued driving?

With the back-to-school season in full swing, drivers who are in high school and college need to remember that driving when they are too tired is incredibly dangerous. These students have to be able to balance the need to study with their other activities, but this can't come at the expense of safety. Fatigue has many impacts on a person's ability to drive.

One of the most serious hazards of fatigued driving is that the driver is at risk of getting into a crash. This can lead to injuries or even deaths. You also face the risk of getting a ticket or facing criminal charges because of fatigued driving.

What factors can lead to fatigue?

Lack of sleep is the most common factor that can lead to fatigued driving. However, others like driving on roads that are familiar, can also lead to it. Drivers who travel long distances in one trip are also at risk of fatigue, especially if they are on the road during a time that they would normally sleep. Students who are traveling back home should be careful of this if they live several hours from school.

How does fatigue impact driving abilities?

Drivers who are fatigued will have a slower reaction time to things on the road that require them to take evasive action like changing lanes or braking. They might not be able to make sound decisions and may not be as attentive to what is going on around them. They are at risk of nodding off, which increases the risk of being in an accident. Around 4% of respondents of a survey reported that they had dozed off at the wheel at least once within the previous 30 days, which shows this is a serious problem on the roads.

Are there options for reducing fatigue?

The only long-term solution to address fatigue is getting sleep. Some drivers can get a short-term boost from drinking caffeine or opening the windows, but those methods can't be used for very long. If a driver feels they are getting fatigued, they should pull over and get rest or have someone else finish the drive.

Because of the risk of crashing when a driver is fatigued, other people on the roads should remember -- should a crash take place -- that they should treat these wrecks like any other. Seek medical care for injuries and contact the police to come out to write an accident report. Filing a claim for compensation is also possible since driving fatigued is negligence.

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