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Understanding the Dangers of Fatigued Driving

Understanding the Dangers of Fatigued Driving
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Fatigued driving occurs when a motorist operates a vehicle excessively tired or sleepy. Often underestimated, this condition severely undermines the ability to drive safely. 

Unlike alcohol-related impairment with its telltale signs, fatigue can silently deteriorate a person’s driving abilities. The repercussive impact on road safety is both alarming and preventable. 

Our Texas injury attorney at Patterson Law Group explains how fatigued driving can impact a driver’s ability to maintain vehicle control and ultimately lead to crashes.

How Fatigue Impairs Your Driving

Driving while fatigued can have a detrimental impact on a person’s ability to control their vehicle. Some of the dangerous consequences include:

Slower Reaction Times

Tired drivers tend to react more slowly to changes or unexpected events on the road. This delayed response time can be the difference between avoiding a collision and causing a catastrophic accident. 

Imagine trying to swerve to avoid an obstacle or brake suddenly when a pedestrian steps into a crosswalk. The extra seconds lost due to fatigue can have devastating consequences.

Reduced Attention and Concentration

Fatigue makes it challenging to stay focused on the task at hand. When your mind starts to wander, you may overlook critical details like traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, or sudden stops by cars ahead of you. This lapse in attention significantly increases the risk of an accident, as even a momentary distraction can lead to severe outcomes.

Impaired Judgment and Decision-Making

When fatigued, making sound decisions becomes a hurdle. Whether it’s judging the safe distance between cars, deciding when to overtake, or interpreting road signs, poor choices can put everyone at risk. Fatigue diminishes your cognitive functions, making these split-second decisions much harder to get right.

Decreased Ability to Process Information

Interpreting road signs, signals, and the actions of other drivers becomes harder when you’re fatigued. This can lead to confusion or misjudgment, such as failing to notice a stop sign or misreading the speed limit. The reduced ability to process and act on critical information can lead to dangerous driving behaviors.

Difficulty Maintaining Lane Position

Drifting between lanes or off the road is a common sign of a driver too tired to be behind the wheel. This can be particularly dangerous on highways or in heavy traffic, where maintaining your lane is crucial for safety. Lane drifting due to fatigue can lead to sideswiping other vehicles, running off the road, or even head-on collisions.

Impaired Coordination and Motor Skills

Driving requires coordination between your hands, feet, eyes, and brain. Fatigue significantly impairs these motor skills, making it harder to perform simple tasks like steering, braking, or accelerating. This lack of coordination can result in erratic driving and increased accident risk.

Memory Lapses

Forgetting the last few miles driven, also known as “highway hypnosis,” is a red flag for fatigued driving. This phenomenon occurs when your brain goes into auto-pilot mode, and you lose track of time and distance. It indicates that you are too tired to drive safely and should take a break immediately.

Frequent Yawning and Eye Rubbing

These are physical manifestations of tiredness that should never be ignored when driving. Frequent yawning and eye rubbing are your body’s way of telling you that it needs rest. Ignoring these signs can lead to more severe symptoms of fatigue, further impairing your driving abilities.


These brief, involuntary bursts of sleep can last from a fraction of a second up to 30 seconds. Even a few moments of inattention can result in a serious crash. During these microsleeps, you are essentially driving blind, making it impossible to react to any changes or hazards on the road.

Fatigue is a serious risk factor that can compromise your driving ability. Always be mindful of your physical state before getting behind the wheel, and take the necessary precautions to ensure you and others remain safe on the road.

Common Injuries from Car Crashes Caused by Fatigued Drivers

Victims of fatigued driving accidents can suffer a range of injuries that require extensive medical care. These can include: 

  • Spinal injuries: These can range from herniated discs to severe spinal cord damage, potentially resulting in paralysis.
  • Brain damage: Concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can lead to long-term cognitive and physical impairments.
  • Broken bones: Fractures can occur in any body part and may require surgeries and extensive rehabilitation.
  • Internal organ injuries: Damage to organs such as the liver, spleen, or kidneys can be life-threatening and necessitate immediate medical attention.
  • Severe lacerations: Deep cuts and wounds may result in significant blood loss and require stitches or even surgical intervention.
  • Broken bones: These can cause immense pain, limited mobility, and long-term complications.

In severe cases, victims may even lose their lives in crashes due to fatigued drivers. A car accident lawyer in San Antonio can help you pursue a personal injury claim so you have the money you need during this challenging time.

Legal Implications and Responsibilities in Texas

Victims have the right to file personal injury claims to recover compensation for the damages they face in crashes caused by fatigued drivers. This legal action compensates the victims and holds the responsible parties accountable for their negligence.

Some of the damages that may be recovered include:

  • Medical Expenses: This covers the cost of immediate medical treatment and ongoing healthcare needs resulting from the accident. It can include hospital stays, surgeries, medication, and physical therapy.
  • Lost Wages: Victims may be compensated for the income they lost due to being unable to work during their recovery period.
  • Loss of Earning Capacity: If the injuries sustained prevent the victim from returning to their previous employment or affect their ability to earn a living, they may be entitled to compensation for this loss.
  • Pain and Suffering: This accounts for the physical pain and discomfort experienced due to the accident.
  • Emotional Distress: Beyond physical injuries, accidents can leave deep emotional scars. Victims may be compensated for the psychological impact and mental anguish they endure.
  • Property Damage: Compensation can also cover repairing or replacing personal property damaged in the accident, such as vehicles.
  • Rehabilitation Costs: These costs, such as occupational or speech therapy, may be included in compensation for injuries requiring extensive rehabilitation.
  • Loss of Consortium: This refers to the negative impact of an injury on the victim’s relationship with their spouse or family members. Compensation may be awarded for losing companionship, affection, and support.

Working with a car accident lawyer in San Antonio will give you the best chance of protecting your rights and recovering the maximum compensation possible. 

Contact Our Texas Injury Attorney Today

If you’ve been hurt in a crash caused by a fatigued driver in Texas, it’s crucial to understand your rights and options. Seeking legal counsel from a car accident lawyer in San Antonio can help protect your interests. Our Texas injury attorney at Patterson Law Group provides a free consultation to review your case and discuss the best action.

For those who have encountered the devastating effects of a car crash due to another’s negligence, Patterson Law Group’s team stands ready to support and guide you through seeking justice and compensation.

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