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My name is Steve Young and I am a retired California Highway Patrol Officer. I will also be your instructor in one of the online traffic courses with B Line Traffic Schools. No matter what course you sign up for, my goals are the same: Present you with the information that you need in a way that will not put you to sleep and then get you back to your life.  Throughout some of the courses I have included interesting situations, people and other random things I have come across in my 25+ years with the CHP to break things up a bit. Ok ok, enough about me. Close this window and start your course with B Line Traffic Schools today.

The Invisible Driving Danger: Driving While Tired

10 Feb Blog | Comments

Asked to name the top three dangerous driver states, most people can name two. Drunk driving and texting come readily to mind when dangerous driving is mentioned. Driving while tired is seldom mentioned.

Many studies indicate that driving while tired is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. This is why we strongly advise against driving while drowsy or tired. In fact, driving while tired is as unlawful, in many states, as drunk driving. In New Jersey, driving while tired and causing a crash with injury is now a felony. In many other jurisdictions, fatigued driving is seen as a criminal offense under existing laws governing careless or reckless driving and vehicular homicide.

One problem with these laws, as many people learn in traffic school, is that there is no test for drowsy driving, such as a breathalyzer. Investigators rely on eye-witness statements regarding the behavior of the driver, and on the circumstances of the accident. When a witness reports that a driver did not attempt to avoid a collision, officers suspect an impaired driver. If the driver is not intoxicated, he or she is likely driving while tired. Investigators also look for signs such as the car’s having drifted into another lane or off the road. These signals often indicate tired driving.

Many people think that because they are normally good drivers, they won’t fall asleep while driving. Others think that even though they’re a little drowsy, it’s okay to drive. Still others think that they can tell when they are going to fall asleep, and stop themselves. None of these ideas are true. Drowsy driving is not safe under any circumstances. No one can control their impulse to sleep. The slowed reflexes and response times of tired driving cannot be overcome by extra vigilance or awareness of the drowsiness.

Drowsy driving can happen to anyone, but it is most common in people who drive late at night, such as shift workers and younger men. Anyone who fails to get enough sleep due to obligations or a medical condition can drive when drowsiness is likely. Unlike drunk driving, drowsy driving is disconcertingly common. People who would never dream of drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car have no qualms about driving while tired. They think they can “handle it.” They are wrong.

Drowsy drivers are dangerous because of the way drowsiness mimics drunk driving. Tired drivers do not concentrate well, have trouble seeing clearly and have slow reaction times. A driver who actually falls asleep is the most dangerous of all, and can cause a fatal wreck without ever knowing it. Anyone who has ever dozed for a second while driving and then jerked awake knows how easily this can happen. This is why online traffic school teaches drivers never to drive while tired.

If a driver on the road seems to be driving while fatigued, what is the best action? First, stay a safe distance away from such a driver if at all possible. A good indication of a fatigued driver is a car that drifts in and out of the proper lane. Chances are that driver is drunk or tired. It may be difficult to tell the difference. Any driving behavior that indicates the driver is not in control of the vehicle should serve as a warning sign. While staying at a safe distance, calling the police from a cell phone will help take an unsafe driver off of the road.

Driving while tired is one of the most dangerous things most drivers do. While most people learn in traffic school to avoid tired driving, many do it anyway. This is a very preventable driving hazard.


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