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First Peer-Reviewed Study on Sleep Deprivation & Auto Accidents Shows Drowsy Drivers 15 Times More Likely to Crash

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Last month, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted the first peer-reviewed study to analyze car accident crash risks associated with sleep-deprived drivers. Although a number of studies and surveys in recent years have been highlighting the dangers of drowsy driving, the latest study, published in the scientific journal Sleep, the latest study is the first of its kind to employ peer-review methods, which are favored in academia for maintain high standards of quality and credibility.

As part of the study, researchers reviewed statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on over 5,400 auto accidents across the country, including interviews with drivers and detailed notes and supplementary data. Some of their key findings include:

  • Motorists who get less than 4 hours of sleep in a single night were 15 times more likely to cause a collision, compared to those who got the recommended 7 to 9 hours of rest.
  • The 15x crash risk for drivers with less than 4 hours of sleep is comparable to driving with a BAC level 1.5 times higher than the legal limit. That’s equivalent to driving with a .12 blood alcohol level.
  • Sleeping less than 4 hours also made drivers 3.4 times more likely to cause a single-vehicle accident than those who slept for 7 to 9 hours.
  • Increased crash risks were also noted among drivers who got 5 or 6 hours of sleep in a single night (1.3 times and 1.9 times, respectively) and among motorists whose work schedules had changed in the previous week, or who were on the road for at least 3 hours without taking a break.

While most people are aware that a lack of sleep can impact the way we perform at work or with simple, everyday tasks, studies like this are important to addressing the fact that Americans are sleep-deprived and not sufficiently concerned about driving while drowsy. While recording accurate statistics about the true impact of drowsy driving is difficult, NHTSA estimates that in 2015 alone, drowsy driving was responsible for over 70,000 police-reported wrecks, more than 40,000 injuries, and well over 800 deaths.

Tips to Avoid & Address Drowsy Driving

With risks like these, it becomes everyone’s responsibility to stay as safe as possible on the road by avoiding drowsy driving. Experts recommend these simple, sensible tips:

  • Make sleep a priority. Experts recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults.
  • You can make up “sleep debt” to an extent by catching up on extra hours when you’ve had a night or two without meeting the full 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
  • If you have a medical condition that affects your sleeping patterns, such as sleep apnea, seek medical attention and treatment.
  • Avoid taking medications that can cause drowsiness or which are taken specifically to help you sleep.
  • Be aware of signs that your driving ability may be affected by fatigue. These include missing a turn or exit, drifting from your lane, hitting debris or rumble strips on roadsides, trouble remembering where you’ve been driving, and more.
  • Pull over and rest if fatigue is truly impacting your ability to drive safely. Take a nap, drink a caffeinated beverage, or switch off with another driver when possible.
  • Getting enough rest is even more important before longer road trips, as are periodic breaks and driver changes when possible.

Injured in a Car Wreck? Our Houston Injury Attorneys Can Help.

Drowsy driving is a form of negligent driving, especially when it coincides with traffic violations, failures to safely operate a motor vehicle, or violations of strict commercial trucking or bus regulations. By investigating the circumstances of a wreck, our legal team at The Daspit Law Firm can identify if a driver’s drowsiness, or their negligence and failure to meet their duty of care, may have caused your accident and injuries, and help you pursue the financial compensation you deserve.

To discuss a recent car accident and your legal rights in Houston or anywhere in the state of Texas, contact us for a FREE consultation. The Daspit Law Firm is available 24/7 to help.

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