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Avoiding Driver Fatigue

While the National Transportation Safety Board continues its investigation regarding the Bronx bus accident, killing 15 people in early March, many speculate that the accident occurred as a result of driver fatigue. Symptoms of driver fatigue include heavy eyelids, frequent yawning, daydreaming or feeling fidgety and irritable. A fatigued driver may drift over road lines, change vehicle speeds for no reason, and often misjudge traffic situations. Even if a driver falls asleep for four to five seconds, a car can travel up to 100 yards, resulting in fatal consequences. Delayed driver reaction time makes fatigue-related crashes more sever than others. In most cases, driver fatigue occurs while on long road trips. The average person needs seven or eight hours of sleep a night, so don’t skimp on sleep prior to a long drive. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages may be effective in the short term but are not a substitute for sleep. Also, fresh air and open windows have no lasting effect on your ability to stay awake. Don’t rely on the quick fix; plan ahead. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and schedule breaks every two hours. Here are some other tips to take into consideration:

  • Don’t work a full day and drive for hours knowing you are tired
  • Don’t drink alcohol the night before driving as this may impair your judgment
  • Avoid driving during your normal sleep hours
  • Check your medication to see if it causes drowsiness, and plan your trip to avoid peak effects of medication
  • Share driving responsibilities with another on long trips

Most importantly, recognize and address sleepiness when it develops. Utilize rest areas on the highway or check in to a hotel. As a driver it is your responsibility to be alert at all times, so remember to plan ahead to ensure not only your own safety but also others on the road. Source: “Are We There Yet: Practical and Safe Vacation Travel Tips.” Injury Board Spring 2010: 17.

Andrew Finkelstein

Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties. An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.