According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators and the Canadian Trucking Association, fatigue is one of the four primary causes of vehicle accidents across Canada. The other three deadly driving habits are speeding, impairment and distractions. These authorities report that one in five crash fatalities involve fatigued drivers.
Fatigue affects people in two ways – mental and physical – both compromising drivers’ abilities to drive safely. The following issues contribute to fatigue in drivers:
- Sleep loss – cumulative: Losing one or more hours of sleep over several consecutive nights causes sleep debt.
- Sleep loss – acute: Sleeping for less than the required seven to eight hours within 24 hours causes this type of fatigue.
- Continuous wakefulness: Studies show that being awake for 16 to18 consecutive hours impairs alertness and performance.
- Sleep disorders: Inadequate sleep can result from conditions like insomnia, sleep apnea and night terrors.
- Disrupted circadian rhythms: Our bodies are hardwired to sleep at night and be awake in the day. Switching the two rhythms around could cause fatigue.
- Workload and stress: Fatigue follows challenging commutes to and from work, facing a demanding job for eight hours and dealing with household issues before bedtime.
- Medications: Stimulants like caffeine present in some over-the-counter and prescription medications interrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue.
Anyone in British Columbia who suffers injuries in a car accident may be entitled to pursue claims for financial relief. If there is proof that a fatigued or otherwise impaired driver caused the crash, the victim likely has grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. If it involves cross-border personal injury during a trip south of the border, navigating the legal and insurance issues of both countries could quickly become complicated and would require the assistance of a lawyer who is well versed in the laws and regulations of both countries.