The People’s Lawyer

How fatigued West Virginia drivers can endanger others

On Behalf of | May 6, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

The average working adult, especially if they have young children, won’t have enough time in the day to take care of all of their responsibilities. They will often prioritize finishing an emergency work project or doing the day’s dishes over getting a full night’s sleep.

Fatigue is almost a point of pride for many hard-working individuals. They treat their inability to get eight hours of slumber each night as evidence that they are competent, independent individuals. Unfortunately, when people don’t get enough sleep, they put themselves and everyone else at risk on the road.

The 2 ways that fatigued drivers endanger others

The problem with being so tired while driving that one can barely keep their eyes on the road is that people may potentially fall asleep at the wheel. A shocking one out of 25 drivers will admit to falling asleep at the wheel at least once in the last 30 days. Many others may experience microsleep where they may keep their eyes open but lose consciousness for a few seconds at a time.

Obviously, falling asleep at the wheel is very dangerous, but it isn’t the only safety concern. The other way that fatigued motorists put others at risk is through impairment. Safety experts often compare the effects of fatigue on the brain to the impact of alcohol. Someone who has gone 20 hours without sleep is as dangerous to others on the road as someone who is over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration. Like alcohol, fatigue increases reaction time, decreases focus and affects someone’s rational decision-making abilities.

Caffeine and other stimulants are not solutions

It is very common practice for those who have too long without sleep to use caffeine as a crutch. Whether they drink soda, energy drinks or coffee, the caffeine that they ingest will not actually undo the side effects of going without sleep, although it may temporarily alleviate their sense of fatigue and difficulty focusing.

In many cases, consuming large amounts of caffeine can make someone jittery and nervous, which can make their driving less safe. Understanding the risk created by fatigued drivers can potentially help other motorists in West Virginia stay safer on the roads.