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The impact of sleep deprivation on drivers


Posted on behalf of Mark F. Griffin of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Mar 06, 2015 in Car Accidents

In our last post we wrote about how the upcoming daylight savings time change impacts drivers at the start of the workweek. In that post we discussed a study that found that there is a correlation between the loss of that one hour and the number of car accidents that occur. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is an increase. In this post we will provide some facts about drowsy driving that readers may not be aware of.

This is an issue throughout the nation. According to an estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each year, driver fatigue is a direct cause of 100,000 police-reported crashes. Annually, this in turn accounts for:

  • $12.5 billion in monetary losses
  • 71,000 injuries
  • 1,550 deaths

The amount of sleep lost appears to be relevant. According to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, as compared to those who get a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night, drivers who instead sleep between six and seven hours, double their risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. The risk is even greater—four to five times—when a driver sleeps less than five hours each night.

At a certain point the lack of sleep impairs a driver in the same way that drunk driving does. A study conducted on this very topic found that a driver who is awake for 24 hours is impaired to the same extent as someone who has a blood alcohol concentration of .10.

A poll conducted in 2002 determined that there are certain people who are more likely to engage in this activity than others. Shift workers, individuals who have children and young men are the most prone.

Regardless of the age of the person who has gotten behind the wheel while sleep deprived, the activity could be considered negligence in a court of law. For this reason those who have been hurt or lost a loved one in a crash because of this may decide to pursue a lawsuit.