Stepping into your car and venturing onto the open road requires drivers to remain vigilant about safety. Being able to perform driving duties requires drivers to be sober, well rested and focused on their responsibilities. When these traits aren’t present, drivers can make errors that lead to crashes.
Understanding why impairment, fatigue, and distractions are dangerous may help drivers remain safer.
Whether it’s alcohol, medication or other substances, impairment harms reaction times, cognitive ability and decision-making skills. Even motor skills are affected. Some drivers don’t realize how impaired they are until it’s too late and they’re already on the road. This puts everyone on the road with them at risk.
Many people associate distracted driving with texting, but that’s only one form of distraction. Anything that takes a driver’s mind off driving, eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel is a distraction.
This can include everything from looking at an interesting billboard or talking to other occupants of the vehicle to taking a bite of food or adjusting the playlist. Drivers must keep their full attention on the road to see obstacles that might require them to act and take the appropriate action.
Fatigue while driving is sneaky because it often creeps up unnoticed, like a shadow. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with lack of sleep, but that is one cause drivers can correct.
Driving on familiar roads and certain medical conditions can also contribute to driver fatigue. Any driver who starts noticing signs of drowsiness, including microsleeps, excessive yawning or droopy eyes, should get off the road as soon as safely possible so they rest enough that it’s safe to drive again.
Unfortunately, impaired, fatigued and distracted drivers can injure innocent people on the roadways. Whether the victim is an occupant in another vehicle, bicyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian, their future can change dramatically. Those victims may seek compensation to help offset the expenses related to the crash. Washington law has time limits built in for how long victims have to seek compensation, so do this quickly.