Drowsy Drivers up to 12x Accident Prone
A recent announcement of findings by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says drivers aren’t getting enough sleep. No surprise really. We’ve all been there — whether it’s commuting to work after a sleepless night with a sick child, or burning the midnight oil to meet a school or work deadline.
The AAA’s findings are supported by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which says one in three people in the U.S. sleep less than the recommended amount. The AAA also pointed out in their announcement that one in five fatal crashes involve lack of sleep.
The announcement heralds a 19-page report entitled “Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement,” which also breaks down the increased likelihood of a crash by the number of hours of missed sleep.
The statistics in it are not pretty:
- 6-7 hours per night is 1.3 times more likely to crash.
- 5-6 hours per night is 1.9 times more likely to crash.
- 4-5 hours per night is 4.3 times more likely to crash.
- Less than four hours is 11.5 times more likely to crash.
It should be pointed out that four to five hours of sleep is the equivalent of driving with blood alcohol level of .08 or above, which means you are essentially a drunk driver.
There are, however, strategies that drivers can take to increase their odds for safe driving. The obvious place to start is to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
There are other tips for drivers as well:
- Don’t drive during the hours when you normally sleep.
- Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles.
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness.
- Don’t eat large meals and then get behind the wheel.
- Travel with alert passengers and share the driving on trips.
The good news in this is that drivers can choose to take the above precautions. While nothing is guaranteed, drivers are looking for trouble if they don’t sleep and don’t take a sensible approach to driving.
If you or a family member are in a vehicle crash where it seems that the other driver may not have been awake or even admits to being tired or asleep, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney with experience in motor vehicle accidents. Insurance may not cover the complete replacement of the vehicle nor possibly all the medical expense, to say nothing of copays, lost time at work and ongoing treatment. Compensation from the other driver may not make the injuries go away, nor properly fix the damage, but it can help accident victims and their families bounce back after such cataclysmic events like an car crash.