Connection Between Sleep Deprivation and Car Accident Risks

The Connection Between Sleep Deprivation and Car Accident Risks

Sleep deprivation is a common issue in the United States. More people than ever are working second jobs or side hustles, as well as taking care of children, maintaining a home, and meeting other obligations. Sleep seems to fall to the bottom of the priority list. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep can have a profound impact on your ability to drive safely and avoid accidents. Fatigue is a common issue in a shocking amount of accidents every single year.

Have you been hurt in a car accident caused by a fatigued driver? We’re here to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Call Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short at 334-560-1936 to set up a consultation right away.


How Common is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is incredibly common, with the Sleep Foundation reporting that one-third of Americans are sleep deprived. They note that this number has increased substantially in recent years. Consider what this means for your time driving: at any given point, one-third of the drivers around you could be functioning on too little sleep. Not only do you have to make sure that you are getting enough sleep to drive safely, but you also have to be prepared for the possible sleep-deprived choices of those around you.

Sleep Deprivation and Driving

When you don’t get enough sleep, your driving is affected in myriad ways. To start, you should know that drowsy driving is comparable to drunk driving. This is particularly alarming when you consider that half of all drivers admit to drowsy driving, and a full one in 25 say that they have fallen asleep while driving in the last month. Research indicates that fatigue affects your ability to drive in much the same way as overconsumption of alcohol. Driving after being awake for 18 hours is similar to having a BAC of 0.05% and driving after 24 hours of being awake is equivalent to a BAC of 0.1%.

Fatigued driving affects your ability to concentrate, motor skills, reaction time, and decision-making skills. Unfortunately, all of those are pretty important for driving. A lag in motor skills could leave you unable to physically maneuver your vehicle even if you know what you should be doing. Delayed reaction times can mean the difference between avoiding an accident and driving straight into danger. Poor decision-making skills may leave you making the obviously wrong decision when faced with an obstacle or change in road conditions.

The scary part of this is that you don’t have to feel chronically sleep-deprived to be affected by your limited sleep. Per the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, sleeping between six and seven hours per night—completely common for American adults—is associated with a doubled risk of being involved in a car accident. Those who get less than five hours of sleep may have a quadrupled risk of involvement in a car accident.

Preventing Fatigued Driving

Despite millions of dollars spent on drowsy driving research, public safety initiatives, and outreach programs, the one basic piece of advice hasn’t changed: get enough sleep before driving. If it were that simple, most people would be doing it already.

While we can’t change how other people manage their sleep needs and driving schedule, we can each make sure we are sleeping enough before a long drive. Plan the day ahead of a long drive to wear yourself out sufficiently to go to sleep no fewer than eight hours before you need to get up to drive. Furthermore, to avoid sleep inertia, give yourself at least half an hour to wake up fully before you have to hit the road.

Since there are times when driving while tired is inevitable, learn how to recognize the signs of fatigued driving and have plans in place to help. Know the location of rest stops on your drive, and don’t be afraid to rely on caffeine for a short-term fix.

Get Help with Your Accident Claim—Contact Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short

If you’ve been injured in a crash caused by a drowsy driver, find out if you are entitled to compensation. It all starts with a free consultation. Contact us online or call us at 334-560-1936 to set up your consultation now.

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