AAA Study: Drowsy Driving as Risky as Drunk Driving
The dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are widely known. And in recent years, law enforcement agencies have increased awareness of the dangers of driving while distracted due to cell phones and other electronic devices. However, many drivers are unaware of the dangers of drowsy driving.
CBS News says that a study by AAA found that drivers who get five to six hours of sleep—two to three hours fewer than experts recommend—on a nightly basis put themselves at a risk of being involved in a car accident that’s quadruple that of drivers who get at least seven hours of sleep.
Federal regulators say that driving while drowsy is as dangerous as driving while drunk, and up to one-third of drivers report that getting roadways when they’re sleep or have trouble keeping their eyes open.
A spokesperson for AAA’s traffic safety and advocacy department says that teens, older adults, and people who routinely run up a “sleep debt” are the most at-risk for drowsy driving accidents.
The risk increases at greater levels of sleep deprivation. Drivers who get five to six hours of sleep are twice as likely to crash, drivers who get four to five hours are four times as likely to crash, and drivers who get less than four hours are 12 times as likely to crash.
Why Is Drowsy Driving So Dangerous?
The National Sleep Foundation’s DrowsyDriving.org website hosts memorials and testimonials from family members of people who were seriously injured or killed in drowsy driving accidents. It also lists why these types of crashes are so dangerous and why they can be as deadly as drunk driving and distracted driving collisions.
A few reasons that drowsy driving is as dangerous as other types of impaired driving include:
- Police can’t detect it
When an officer pulls over a driver for a moving violation, he or she can use field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer to determine if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In addition, police can check cell phones to determine if a driver was texting while behind the wheel. However, it’s impossible for police to determine if a driver is sleepy or drowsy if isn’t induced by alcohol or drugs.
- 42 percent of drowsy drivers report stress and 32 percent report impatience
Driving while drowsy can be frustrating and unpleasant—especially when drivers are forced to get behind the wheel at odd hours or when they’re sleep deprived. The effects of sleep deprivation can cause drivers to become emotional and make bad decisions that can put them, their passengers, and other motorists at risk.
- The NHTSA estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are due to drowsy driving annually
Federal regulators say that driving while drowsy is as dangerous as driving while drunk, and up to one-third of drivers report getting on roadways when they’re sleepy or have trouble keeping their eyes open.
- Drowsy drivers can fall asleep at the wheel
Drivers who are drowsy are at a much higher risk for accidents than drivers who are well-rested, but drivers who fall asleep for even a few seconds are at the highest risk of all. Drivers who send a text can travel the length of a football field in the time it takes to write and send the message, and drivers who briefly nod off can also travel long distances—all while being completely unaware of their vehicle’s out-of-control movement.
At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident attorneys know how dangerous drowsy driving accidents can be for drivers, their passengers, and other motorists. The dangers are amplified even more when the drowsy driver happens to be behind the wheel of a large commercial vehicle such as a tractor-trailer or semi-truck.
People who get behind the wheel when they’re sleep-deprived—especially if they’re driving while performing the duties of their job—may be considered negligent. That means that innocent victims like you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation for things like medical bills and lost wages. To find out how our legal team can build a strong case for you and your family, dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free initial consultation form.