You are twice as likely to be involved in a car accident if you are driving with one or two hours less than the recommended 7 hours of rest in the last 24 hours. Drivers who have had little or no sleep are actually no different than those who have downed three or four drinks and are too drunk to drive.That’s according to a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. sleepy

The findings draw on original research and past studies, and cause us great consternation when we consider that we live in a world where people are always on-the-go and rarely get the proper amount of rest. About 35 percent of people get less than the seven hours of sleep they need every night, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 12 percent of Americans report receiving five hours of sleep or less every night.

Previous studies by the foundation indicated 1 in 5 fatal crashes involved a driver who was sleep-deprived. This new research looks at how much driving ability is affected by varying levels of sleep deprivation. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the less sleep people got, the more at risk they were of being involved in a collision. The startling thing was just by how much their crash risk increased.

The executive director of the foundation explained to the Washington Post that people cannot expect to skip sleep and still get behind the wheel of a vehicle and function safely.

The hope is this report will grab the attention of those who actually take pride on their ability to function on less than seven hours of sleep every night. The sample examined some 4,600 crashes in which police investigators concluded lack of sleep was a factor in the crash. The findings suggest that these individuals are wrong – they can’t function on so little sleep.

People who slept for less than 4 hours in the previous 24 hours increased their crash rate by 11.5-fold. Those who only slept between 3 and 5 hours had a crash risk that was nearly 4.5 times that of someone who slept the full seven hours. Someone who sleeps between 5 and 7 hours still had double the rate of crash risk as someone who slept the full seven hours.

Meanwhile, the AAA Foundation conducted a survey not that long ago that revealed 97 percent of motorists said drowsy driving is totally unacceptable and is a major threat to their safety. Yet one in three admitted they had at least once in the last month driven when they were so sleepy they had difficulty making sure their eyes stayed open.

There are many symptoms of drowsy driving, which include:

  • Difficulty keeping one’s eyes open;
  • Drifting from lanes;
  • Not remembering the last several miles driven.

However, more than 50 percent of motorists involved in fatigue-related crashes said they had no symptoms prior to the car accident. This is why we can’t always rely solely on our bodies to tell us when we’re too tired to drive. Instead, we need to prioritize getting enough sleep before driving.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

Driving drowsy doubles risk of accidents on U.S. roadways, Staff Report, Florida Weekly

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Report: MD Bus Driver in Fatal Crash Took Seizure Medication, Nov. 19, 2016, Miami Car Accident Lawyer Blog