Stay Alert: Daylight Savings May Increase Crash Risk Due to Drowsy Driving

clock-300x225This coming weekend marks the end of daylight savings time as the clocks fall back. With this change, Rhode Islanders may be driving longer at night leading to an increase in driver fatigue and road hazards resulting in a car accident. According to experts at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, “any time change can exacerbate drowsiness and your body may need a few days to adjust accordingly”. Virginia Tech estimates that fatigue is the cause of close to 20 percent of automobile crashes. And sadly, this type of crash is preventable. The personal injury attorney’s at Tapalian Law in Providence specialize in helping Rhode Island residents who have been hurt in car accidents, including crashes caused by a drowsy driver.

Tips to Avoid Driver Fatigue

These tips from Virginia Tech expert Jeff Hickman may not only be helpful during the daylight savings time transition but also during the upcoming busy holiday season, another time you may be tempted to drive drowsy.

  • Avoid driving during rush hour and between 2-4 a.m. Crash risk increases during morning and evening rush hours and between the hours of 2-4 a.m. If a driver is already sleep deprived, 2-4 a.m. is especially dangerous because a person’s circadian rhythm is lowest during this time making them more prone to sleep.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. To avoid drowsiness, get a full night’s rest prior to a long road trip. If you have not been sleeping well at night, you may need more than a few nights of good rest before a long drive.
  • Be aware of drowsy driving signs. Signs of fatigued driving may be slow eyelid closure, yawning, swaying of head, fidgeting in the seat, difficulty staying in a traffic lane, maintaining speed, and delayed reactions.

Truck Drivers Especially Prone to Fatigued Driving

Rhode Islanders are busy. Our daily schedules are packed with work, children’s activities, and personal and professional obligations. This often results in driving home at the end of the day exhausted and maybe not paying as much attention to the roads as we should be. Because of long hours driving, truck drivers are particularly vulnerable to driving while tired. It is not uncommon to hear of truck accidents caused by sleep deprived drivers. Notably, driver fatigue was cited as one of the causes of the crash that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian in 2014. The truck driver who hit Morgan’s car had been awake for an estimated 28 hours prior to the crash. In a separate accident, a train collided with a truck in California in 2015. The crash was caused by a truck driver who was overly fatigued and had been on duty for nearly 24 hours. The accident killed the train engineer and injured dozens of train passengers.

In an effort to aid in the reduction of sleep deprived truck drivers on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has hours of service regulations in place stating maximum number of driving hours and rest breaks. Long stretches of time spent on monotonous highways, often alone, as well as extended time spent in traffic, are all factors that may increase drowsy driving therefore it is important that truckers adhere to protocol to decrease the risk of crashes due to lack of sleep. Most truck drivers are held to these hours of service rules if they operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Depending on the operating schedule of the company and what the trucks are carrying, truckers commonly adhere to a 60 hour over 7 days rule or a 70 hour over 8 days rule. After driving 14 consecutive hours, drivers must take 10 consecutive hours off duty prior to beginning another 14-hour driving shift. During these 14-hour shifts, operators may drive a total of 11 hours. Further regulations apply depending on the type of vehicle, what is on board, and varying circumstances.

Contact a Providence Personal Injury Attorney if You Have Been Hurt in a Car Crash Caused by a Drowsy Driver

Whether during daylight savings time shifts, the busy holiday season, or just our demanding lifestyles, we are all prone to drowsy driving at one time or another.  Letting someone else drive, pulling over to take a rest, caffeine, and music are all ways people attempt to avoid driving dangers while overly tired. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes and heeds the warning signs and symptoms of drowsy driving and takes the right steps to avoid being in this type of situation. If you, or someone close to you, have been hurt in an accident caused by a drowsy or fatigued car or truck driver, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries with the assistance of a Providence personal injury attorney. Tapalian Law has helped Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents who have been injured in truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, car accidents, and slip and falls. To book a free consultation with Attorney David Tapalian, contact our Providence office at 401-552-5000 or visit us online.

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