In late August of this year, Stephen Jackson was driving eastbound on Ocean Gateway in Easton when his Ford Econoline left the road at approximately 3:40 p.m. after he reportedly fell asleep at the wheel. Mr. Jackson suffered an injury and was taken to Easton Memorial hospital.
Mr. Jackson was lucky he was not killed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 collisions each year, leading to 40,000 injuries and 1,500 fatalities.
We spoke earlier of regulatory action taken by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to combat the rising toll of accidents caused by fatigued truck operators. Shortened hours of service (HOS) and enforced work breaks are intended to improve driver health and lower accident tolls.
Whether you drive a car or a truck, operating a vehicle fatigued is driving impaired. The need to get where you are going, or do your job, often trumps the human sleep cycle with devastating results. Following are characteristics of accidents caused by drowsy drivers:
- Usually involve a single car or truck leaving the road
- Occur late at night, early in the morning or during mid-afternoon
- Drivers often alone in the car and make no attempt to brake
Factors contributing to drowsy driving accidents include:
- Long- or short-term sleep deprivation
- Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea, a dangerous condition causing restless sleep and daytime drowsiness
- Sedating medications
- Drive times conflicting with sleep cycles late at night, early in the morning or correlating with a tendency toward sleepiness in the mid-afternoon
Any heavy machinery operated by a sleepy person is dangerous. Get enough sleep on a regular basis and improve the odds that you, and others on the road with you, arrive alive.