According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, sleep-deprived drivers and accidents often go hand-in-hand.
In fact, drivers “who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of a sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash,” the study found.
Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 35 percent of all drivers in the U.S. fail to get at least seven hours of sleep per night.
Study Finds Fatigue to be Leading Role in Car Crashes
The authors of the AAA study noted that more than 20 percent of motor vehicle collisions in the U.S. currently involve drowsy driving.
The fewer hours of sleep you get each night, the more likely you are to be involved in a crash, according to the study. The researchers found that:
- The crash risk increases 3 times when drivers get six to seven hoursof sleep per night.
- The risk increases 9 times when drivers get five to six hours of sleep per night.
- The risk drastically increases to3 times when drivers get only four to five hours of sleep each night.
- Drivers who get fewer than four hours of sleep are at a markedly higher risk of a drowsy driving accident, as the crash risk increases to 5 times that of a driver who sleeps for more than seven hours per night.
“You cannot miss sleep and still be able to safely function behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, the executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Yang added that the recent AAA study “shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.”
Most Drivers Find Drowsy Driving to Be Unacceptable Yet Do It Anyway
A report on the AAA study noted that 97 percent of drivers believe that drowsy driving is “completely unacceptable behavior that is a serious threat to their safety.” Yet, a high percentage of those drivers who responded to the survey admitted to driving without getting enough sleep.
About 33 percent of the drivers who indicated that they find fatigued driving to be intolerable confessed that, at least once in the prior month alone, “they drove when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.”
Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research, said that it is important for drivers to focus on a healthy sleep schedule and to prioritize getting seven hours of sleep per night in order to keep their selves, their passengers and others on the road safe from accidents.
Drowsy Driving Facts and Figures You Should Know
Who faces the greatest risk of getting into drowsy driving accident? How many people actually drive without enough sleep on a regular basis?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following facts and figures help to clarify the answers to those questions:
- Drivers between the ages of 18-29 are more likely to engage in drowsy driving (71 percent) than drivers in other age groups.
- Male drivers are more likely to drive drowsy (56 percent) than are female drivers (45 percent).
- Male drivers are twice as likely as female drivers to fall asleep at the wheel.
- Workers on the night shift are more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash than are those who work daytime shifts.
- Drivers are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel when they are on “high-speed, long, boring, rural highways” than on other routes.
- Urban drivers are more likely to engage in fatigued driving than rural or suburban residents.
- A majority of drowsy driving accident “near misses” happen between the hours of 4-6 a.m., 12-2 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.
Need for Public Awareness About Fatigued Driving Risks and Prevention
After the AAA study emerged, an article in NPR focused on the need for greater public awareness about the risks fatigued, driving.
The more we know about the dangers of drowsy driving, the more we can do to prevent accidents caused by fatigue.
Given that so many drivers admit to feeling sleepy behind the wheel, what steps can those drivers take to avoid a car accident?
After all, we might get on the road for a long drive and feel fully alert at the start, only to sense ourselves drifting off after several hours behind the wheel.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that drivers should take the following steps to avoid a crash:
- Get at least seven hours of sleep per night (and preferably between 7-9 hours).
- Schedule regular breaks when you are driving.
- Do not use alcohol or other medications that could sedate you while you are driving.
- If you feel yourself getting tired behind the wheel, stop driving and find a place to get a caffeinated beverage and/or to take a nap.
Contact a Drowsy Driving Accident Lawyer in Teaneck, New Jersey
At Davis, Saperstein, & Salomon, P.C., we are committed to helping New Jersey residents who have sustained serious injuries in auto accidents caused by drowsy drivers.
Driving without getting enough sleep may mean that the drowsy driver is liable for injuries. When another driver’s negligence results in a motor vehicle collision, it is important to hold that driver responsible.
An experienced Teaneck car accident lawyer at our firm can discuss your options with you for filing a claim. Contact Davis, Saperstein, & Salomon, P.C., today.