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Driver fatigue: A plague on Denver roads

Patricia M. Jarzobski

Fatigued drivers can be just as dangerous -- and occasionally deadly -- as drunk drivers. Studies show that driver fatigue is a leading cause of car accidents on Denver area roadways. All of us live in a world of 24/7 schedules, and the residents of urban areas such as Denver are no exception. This means that your late night drive home from the office might entail risks that you hadn't counted on. Indeed, you could encounter a driver that has imbibed a little too much; but the driver directly in front of him or her who had only four hours of sleep in the preceding 24-hour period may be just as hazardous to your commute.

Driver fatigue may well have been the cause of the early morning accident involving a motorist who collided with the front entrance of a 7-11 store located on 10010 Girard Avenue early Wednesday morning. Initial reports state that the female driver of the vehicle involved thought she had the car in the drive gear, when she intended to have it in reverse -- a clear example of a very routine driving operation gone very wrong, because of what may have been fatigued driver. The driver has been cited for "careless driving" pending further investigation by the police at the scene of the accident. Since the initial report indicates no drugs or alcohol were involved in the accident, a case of driver fatigue could ultimately prove to be the cause.

Even this slow-speed collision caused significant damage, resulting in lost work hours for the store involved as well as its staff. The car involved also received major damage. A very fortunate 7-11 employee stepped away from the counter near the front of the store -- very close to the point of impact -- resulting in an injury-free encounter between store and car. Had the car collided with the store entrance only one moment before, or after, the outcome might have been tragic. Denver drivers need to be aware that driver fatigue can result in accidents like the one above, adequate sleep before any type of drive is a necessity, not a luxury.

Source: CBS Denver, "Car Crashes Into 7-Eleven In Southeast Denver," May 16, 2012

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