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New campaign addresses car accidents caused by driver fatigue

Some people in Montana may think that they can combat driver fatigue with a cup of coffee or an energy drink, rolling down the window for some fresh, cool air or turning up the volume on the radio. However, none of these acts can compensate for the fact that if a person is overtired, he or she should not be behind the wheel of the car. Driver fatigue is responsible for many accidents every year. Therefore, this spring heralded a new public service campaign by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration warning drivers about the dangers of drowsy driving. The campaign advocates for stricter laws, more road signs and an increase in educational efforts and public service announcements in order to combat driver fatigue.

Drowsy driving is a very real danger on Montana roads. According to the NHTSA, in 2015 driver fatigue was responsible for 72,000 car collisions reported to police nationwide, injuring 41,000 individuals and killing 800. Moreover, drowsy driving causes the deaths of 5,000-8,000 individuals annually, which is two times the number of deaths due to distracted driving. As one sleep specialist reports, when a driver is too tired to operate a motor vehicle, it could affect the driver's reaction time, the driver's memory and the driver's ability to think of multiple things at the same time.

So, what can a driver do to avoid drowsy driving? One option is to park your car in a safe place to rest if you simply cannot keep your eyes open. In addition, making sure you have had a good seven to eight hours of sleep prior to driving can help reduce the chances of drowsy driving. Finally, the hours of the day where a person is likely to be the most tired are from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m., so if possible try to stay off the road during those times.

Of course, despite this advice and an increased awareness of the dangers of driver fatigue, there will be those who insist on driving, even if they are too tired to do so safely. When these people get behind the wheel, they can cause a car accident that injures or kills other motorists. If a motorist in Montana is injured in a crash with a drowsy driver, he or she may want to determine what legal action, if any, he or she can take.

Source:, "NHTSA rolls out new campaign against drowsy driving," Liz Lewin, March 20, 2017

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