Fatigue is as dangerous as being impaired

April 07, 2016, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

I was driving not long ago and stopped at a rest area to grab a coffee and some gas. When I parked my car I noticed the guy beside me who was sound asleep with the seat tilted back. When I came back to the car he was just getting out, stretching. We chatted for a bit. He was driving to see family and had been on the road for 10 hours. He felt tired and decided to pull off the road and take a break. 30 minutes of sleep and he was as good as new he said.

Driving tired is as dangerous as driving drunk according to police. Most of us have done it. Late at night in the winter with the heat chugging in, or on a sunny afternoon, behind the wheel. At first you feel tired, then you notice you aren't paying attention. Radio on/off, heat on/off, window up/down. Really what we need to be doing is exactly what this guy did. We either need to hand the wheel over to another driver, get a hotel room, or pull out somewhere safe and take a nap. Try drinking or having meals at regular intervals, stop at rest areas and get out of your car and take a walk. 10 minutes of moving around can give you the break from the road that you need.

Police estimate that tired drivers contribute to 20% of fatal car accidents. An astounding 15 of Canadian drivers admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel of the car at one point in their driving careers. This is a terrifying number. We underestimate the dangers of driving when tired, or of driving for too long a period of time. Driving takes a lot of concentration and can be very taxing after hours on the road. Shift work, bad sleep, medication, drugs and alcohol can all make us drowsy. Heaters, or warm sun shining in during our ‘tired’ periods can conspire against us as well.

It’s not unusual to see people sleeping at rest areas throughout more remote parts of the country where settlement areas can be hours apart. Transport Canada has a list of signs that you are getting drowsy. If you note any of them you should either switch drivers, stop driving, or pull over somewhere and take a nap.

  • blinking or yawning frequently
  • closing eyes for a moment or going out of focus
  • having wandering or disconnected thoughts
  • realizing that you have slowed down unintentionally
  • braking too late
  • not being able to remember driving the last few kilometres
  • drifting over the centre line onto the other side of the road


Posted under Personal Injury, Car Accidents, Drunk Driving Accidents, Spinal Cord Injury, Truck Accidents

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

The opinions expressed here, while intended to provide useful information, should not be interpreted as legal recommendations or advice.

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