Fatigue may be causing more car accidents than currently believed. A new study found that fatigue causes roughly 20 percent of car accidents, a significant increase from the previously stated two to three percent found in earlier studies.
Safety officials were alarmed by the findings of the study because fatigue had not been a major concern for reducing the causes of serious and fatal car accidents in the U.S. However, researchers say that fatigued drivers can be very hazardous on the road.
The study reported that teenagers and young adults were more likely to be involved in a fatigued-related car accident compared to all other age groups. They said that this is because teenagers often go to bed later at night while still having to get up early in the morning to go to school or work. The study also noted that older people can also have issues with fatigue if they are often up late and work early in the morning.
The most surprising finding of the study was that more fatigued-related accidents were more likely to occur during the day and not at night like many would assume. The study reported that driving fatigued can be very dangerous, and drivers who are fatigued are four times more likely to be in a car accident. The researchers suggested that through their findings, roughly 12 percent of all car accidents among the general population can be attributed to fatigue.
While the study’s findings are new and different than what has been previously reported, it is not all that shocking that driving tired or fatigued would increase the risk of being in an accident. Fatigue impacts everyone differently, but it makes it difficult for people to concentrate while driving because they are more focused on trying to stay awake than on safe driving behaviors.
In addition, fatigue can cause many drivers to believe that they are okay to drive because they may not be able to tell how tired they really are, making them more likely to be unaware of potentially dangerous or risky behaviors while behind the wheel.
Researchers said that they will continue to study fatigue and the impact it has on car accidents as well as ways to prevent fatigued individuals from driving.
Source: Newswise, “Researchers Sound Alarm on the Role Fatigue Plays in Crashes,” April 15, 2013