DRIVER FATIGUE CITED AS MAJOR CAUSE OF AUTO ACCIDENTS

Each year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issues its Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements, which outlines top priorities for improvements to safety on roadways in the United States. In 2016, combating driver fatigue was listed among the most important initiatives, due to the catastrophic and sometimes fatal auto accidents that can result from drivers operating motor vehicles with inadequate sleep.

According to the NTSB, driver fatigue contributed to approximately 20 percent of all of the major NTSB accident investigations conducted between 2001 and 2012. The science behind this is simple: if a person does not achieve between 7 and 8 hours of quality sleep each night, they begin to develop a sleep deficit, which can significantly impair reaction time and decision-making while driving, and in the worst cases, result in accidentally falling asleep behind the wheel.

The physiological effects of sleep deprivation inevitably increase the risk of being involved in an auto accident. In fact, drivers who sleep an average of fewer than 5 hours per night are almost 5 times more likely to be involved in a fatigue-related auto accident. According to the Transport Accident Commission, the three driver demographics that are most at risk of becoming involved in a fatigue-related accident are young people, shift workers (i.e. truck drivers), and drivers with sleep disorders.

Sleep apnea is among the most common sleep disorders, affecting the sufferer's ability to breath while sleeping. Sleep apnea causes intermittent breathing interruptions during sleep which can significantly decrease the quality of a person's sleep and result in a sleep deficit. This may lead to decreased alertness, reaction time, and focus while driving.

Due to the potentially dangerous consequences of sleep apnea, the the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prohibits commercial motor vehicle drivers from operating these vehicles if they have a history or diagnosis of respiratory dysfunction, including moderate to severe sleep apnea. Unfortunately, many people with sleep apnea go undiagnosed, increasing their risk of being involved in fatigue-related accidents.

When you are involved in an accident with a truck or another motor vehicle, a personal injuryattorney can conduct an extensive investigation to uncover negligence by the other driver, including driver fatigue caused by lack of sleep or a sleep disorder. If you find yourself injured as a result of an auto accident and you suspect negligence on the part of the other driver, it is essential to understand all of your available legal options. Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys can provide you with an honest assessment and the answers you need to move forward. Contact our offices in Morristown, New Jersey for a cost-free consultation.

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