New Study Finds Lack Of Sleep May Cause One In Five Car Accidents

If you have ever driven while struggling to keep your eyes open after working a graveyard shift or suffering a sleepless night, you may have experienced the terrifying feeling of dozing off behind the wheel. The notion of a sleeping driver navigating a projectile weighing thousands of pounds and moving at sixty miles per hour is a frightening image. While many motorists worry about the danger of being involved in a collision involving a drunk driver, it is probably safe to assume that a driver who has fallen asleep is at least as dangerous.

Despite the degree of risk posed to other drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians by drowsy drivers, this issue has not received the attention from lawmakers or traffic safety experts that has been devoted to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, a new study suggests that keeping tired drivers off the road needs to be a greater point of emphasis if we wish to make the roads of Kentucky safer. A new study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that drowsiness or fatigue causes one in five motor vehicle accidents.

Prior estimates placed the number of collisions attributable to lack of sleep at between 2-3 percent based on simulator studies and surveys. Although it was presumed that these previous estimates were on the conservative side in terms of the number of crashes caused by fatigued drivers, the VTTI study suggests that motorists who are sleep deprived or suffering drowsiness caused by medications may be one of the leading causes of motor vehicle collisions.

While some may assume that the risk of a motor vehicle collision caused by an exhausted driver is primarily a problem during the later night and early morning hours, VTTI researchers were surprised to find that drowsy driving poses a problem at all hours. The study found that car crashes related to driver fatigue were even more likely during daytime hours than at night.

An explanation for this anomaly involves the fatigue pattern demonstrated by drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 who were the most likely drivers to be involved in a car accident related to drowsy driving. The researchers found that high school and college students often keep late night hours whether studying or partying while still needing to get an early start in the morning for school or work. While some older drivers also kept late hours despite needing to get an early start, they compensated for the lack of sleep by drawing on increased experience operating a motor vehicle while suffering from the effects of fatigue.

This study differed from prior sleep deprivation studies related to motor vehicle safety because the researchers were able to actually observe the conduct of drivers immediately prior to a collision. The authors of the study found that in twenty percent of all collisions and sixteen percent of near misses, drivers exhibited physical signs of drowsiness prior to the auto accident. Motorists exhibited head bobbing, micro-sleep, closed eyes and loss of facial musculature. In other words, the drivers were not just tired or yawning but were actually sleeping while they were supposed to be driving.

This study confirms earlier research suggesting that drivers who are fatigued pose as much danger to others with whom they share the road as drunk drivers. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that compared drunk driving and drowsy driving found that both double the risk of a car crash. This is particularly troubling because a prior AAA Foundation poll reported by CNN found that a third of all drivers admitted driving when they were drowsy during the previous thirty day period.

If you have been injured in a collision caused by a fatigued or tired driver, our experienced Kentucky car accident attorneys work diligently to get our clients the compensation they deserve. We encourage you to schedule a FREE consultation and contact us or visit our website atwww.kylawpractice.com. We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you with your legal needs!

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