Anti-drunk driving campaigns and law enforcement efforts have helped make the roads a little safer. But a new study performed by the road safety organization AAA says that the public should be just as concerned about drowsy driving.
According to their findings, getting less than seven hours of sleep doubles the chance of crashing, while sleeping less than five hours makes a driver as unsafe as a drunk driver. “You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Sleep Duration and Crash Risk Directly Linked
The AAA Foundation report found that within a twenty-four-hour period, the crash risk for sleep-deprived drivers increased steadily when compared to drivers who slept the recommended seven hours or more:
- Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash risk
- Five to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk
- Four to five hours of sleep: 4.3 times the crash risk
- Less than four hours of sleep: 11.5 times the crash risk
Signs to Be Aware Of
This study is making headlines and will hopefully raise awareness for what many of us do on a regular basis with hardly a second through: Most of us drive when we’re tired and probably just think of it as a minor inconvenience. In reality, getting sufficient sleep is potentially a matter of life or death. So it’s definitely time to re-examine the shape we’re in when we’re behind the wheel.
While some of this might seem obvious, AAA cites these warning signs to help you identify when you’re not driving at your best:
- Inability to remember the last few miles driven
- Disconnected or wandering thoughts
- Difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open
- Feeling as though your head is very heavy
- Drifting out of your lane and onto the rumble strips
- Yawning repeatedly
- Accidentally tailgating other vehicles
- Missing traffic signs
When drivers recognize the above symptoms, they should relinquish the wheel to someone who has slept more or pull over and rest. AAA also recommends avoiding driving during normal sleep hours and forgoing heavy meals before driving. Drivers should plan to get a good night’s sleep before any long trips and factor in time for rest breaks every two hours or one hundred miles. They should also avoid taking medication that will make them drowsy.
Fatigued Driving Alarmingly Common
The AAA website also notes that 37 percent of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives and that 11 percent report having fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past year. As one survivor of her own drowsy driving crash says, “All it takes is a second, and you just nod off,” and your life can change forever.
New York City Auto Wreck Attorneys
Drowsy driving is an example of negligence that can be used against you or the other driver in the case of an accident. Although proving another driver was tired is trickier than measuring blood alcohol content in a breathalyzer test, there are ways to do so. For instance, certain records may demonstrate that a person had not slept in a number of hours, such as with credit card and phone records. Erratic or unsafe driving can be proven by a skilled attorney.
If you feel that you were victimized by someone else’s negligent behavior, such as drowsy driving, Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP have the experience to convincingly argue your case and increase your chance of getting more compensation. Contact us today to speak to one of our experienced attorneys by calling 1-800-VICTIM2 (842-8462) or by using the online form below.