According to new research by the American Automobile Association (AAA), drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep a day more than quadruple their risk of getting involved in a crash, compared to drivers who sleep for seven hours.

In the AAA study, sleep-deprived drivers were found to be nearly twice as likely to be involved in an accident when they get five to six hours of sleep; more than four times as likely with four to five hours of sleep; and nearly 12 times more likely to be involved in a crash with less than four hours of sleep.

In a Dec. 6 CBS This Morning interview, Jake Nelson, AAA’s director for traffic safety and advocacy and research, said, “Driving with having only earned four to five hours of sleep in a 24-hour period can be just as impairing as driving legally drunk.”

Lack of sleep impairs a driver’s attention, ability to think clearly, and ultimately, reaction time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks accidents throughout the U.S. and states that there are about 56,000 crashes every year in the U.S. for which authorities cite driver fatigue or drowsiness. Likewise, the NHTSA states that drowsy-driving accidents cause nearly 40,000 personal injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year.

 

Understanding How Drowsy Driving Causes Ohio Car Accidents

An NHTSA study called “Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes” concludes that fatigue or sleepiness can ultimately lead to the inability to resist falling asleep at the wheel.

According to the study, a typical crash related to drowsy driving has the following characteristics:

  • The crash occurs after midnight or at midafternoon
  • The driver doesn’t attempt to avoid the crash (for example, skid marks may not be found at the crash scene)
  • The crash is likely of a serious nature and occurs on a high-speed road
  •  A single vehicle drives off the road
  • The driver is alone in the vehicle

Further, the NHTSA study determined that drivers at the highest risk for drowsy driving are:

  • Young drivers ages 16 to 29—particularly young men
  • Sleep apnea syndrome sufferers or those with narcolepsy that is untreated
  • Night-shift workers whose sleep is disrupted by long or irregular hours

Medications, including sedatives like anxiolytic hypnotics, tricyclic antidepressants and some antihistamines, can also cause drowsiness. Of course, alcohol, which is a sedative, compounds the detrimental effect that drowsiness has on physical and mental activity.

These factors, the NHTSA study concludes, have a cumulative effect, and when combined, they dramatically increase the risk of a car crash.

How Can Drowsy Driving be Proven as an Accident Cause?

Investigators utilize many tools, techniques and pieces of evidence to determine the cause of accidents, including drowsy driving accidents. For starters, a basic accident report includes information about the type of accident that occurred that could point to drowsy driving. As mentioned above, the lack of skid marks points to a driver not braking to avoid a crash.

Receipts from credit or debit cards, as well as witness testimony, could indicate that a driver ate or drank something before the accident that made him/her drowsy. Additionally, prescriptions for medication that cause drowsiness could also be used as evidence. Cell phone records also contain data that help to prove whether the driver traveled a long distance prior to the crash.

No one should ever get behind the wheel when they are too drowsy to drive safely. Those who do should be held accountable when their actions result in accidents that harm others. Victims who are injured as a result of a driver who fell asleep at the wheel are entitled to pursue claims in order to obtain compensation for their losses. Additionally, if someone is killed in an accident caused by drowsy driving, the surviving family members may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against that driver.

No Cost Evaluation

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of drowsy driving, your rights are at stake—you need to seek immediate legal advice. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our personal injury attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been forced to endure. The experienced personal injury lawyers at NRS are highly knowledgeable in personal injury litigation, including drowsy driving. We fight side by side with injured victims to make sure they and their families receive compensation for negligence that caused them to be hurt. We will aggressively pursue your case and work to help you obtain the medical care and compensation you need to rebuild your life.

In the event you or a loved one has been injured as a result of drowsy driving, contact the personal injury attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.