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The perils of driving at night

The roads in South Carolina are more dangerous at night for several reasons. Darkness reduces visibility and the glare from oncoming headlights can temporarily blind motorists. However, fatigue and impairment are the primary nighttime dangers, according to road safety experts. After analyzing federal traffic accident data gathered over many years, National Safety Council researchers concluded that the chances of being involved in a crash increase threefold after dark.

Roads are generally quieter at night, which experts say encourages motorists to drive more quickly even though headlights only illuminate about 250 feet of the roadway ahead. A motor vehicle traveling at 40 mph covers this distance in just a few seconds. The problem is even more acute for older drivers who may need twice as much light to see clearly when driving at night.

Studies suggest that road users who would never dream of driving after drinking or taking drugs are often willing to get behind the wheel while dangerously impaired by fatigue. An hour of lost sleep affects drivers roughly as much as a glass of wine. In fact, a poll taken by the National Sleep Foundation indicates that as many as 103 million Americans have fallen asleep while driving. This conclusion is supported by data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that cites fatigue as the cause of about 100,000 motor vehicle accidents each year.

Drivers impaired by fatigue, alcohol or drugs rarely take evasive action before crashing. This means that their victims often suffer debilitating injuries. When pursuing civil damages on behalf of individuals injured by impaired drivers, experienced personal injury attorneys may consult with medical specialists and financial planners to ensure that the compensation being sought is sufficient to cover long-term health care expenses and lost income.