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Sleep Deprivation and Driving: A Fatal Combination

Man driving car and falling asleep at the wheelDrivers who get on the road having had less than 4 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours raise the odds of being in a car crash by a startling 15.1 times, according to a new study. The danger is roughly the same as the accidents risk of a driver whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is about 1.5 times above the legal amount.

In other words, drowsy driving is as likely to cause an accident as drunk driving.

Less Than 7 Hours of Sleep Raises Crash Risk

While the sleep deprivation caused by drivers having less than 4 hours of sleep caused the highest risk of accidents, drivers with less than 7 hours of sleep also had a much greater risk of being in a car accident that drivers who had sufficient hours of sleep. Drivers who had slept 6 hours had 1.3 greater odds of having an accident, while drivers who slept 5 hours at 1.9 greater odds.

Sixteen Percent of Fatal Crashes Are Caused by Sleep Deprivation

How much is enough sleep for safe driving? Generally, 7 to 9 hours nightly is sufficient. Unfortunately, however, U.S. government data indicate that 20% of adults sleep for less than 7 hours per night, and 33% say they chronically get less than 7 hours.

Lack of sufficient sleep can cause motor reflexes to slow down. Drivers may be less able to make needed stops, for example. In addition, drowsy driving affects judgment and impairs the ability to drive safely.

Sixteen percent of car accidents in which someone is killed involve a drowsy driver, and 7% of all car accidents do.

The dangers of drowsy driving have been known for some time, but this is the first study to firmly quantify the relationship between a given number of hours and the related risk of a crash. Data from a U.S. Department of Transportation study, with a sample of 5,470 car accidents, were used.

Speak with an Experienced Long Island Car Accident Attorney

Have you or a loved one been in a car accident in New York state in which drowsy driving was involved? If so, the car accident lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye can help.

Drowsy driving laws are complicated. It’s wise to consult a lawyer if you or a loved one believe that the other driver in your auto accident was sleep-deprived. We will fight for the maximum settlement that you deserve.

Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and what next steps could be. Call today for a free consultation with a seasoned New York City and Long Island car accident lawyer.

Additional Resources:

  1. Tefft, Brian C. Acute sleep deprivation and culpable motor vehicle crash involvement. Sleep, 2018; 41(10) Oct. 1. https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/41/10/zsy144/5067408.
  2. Sleep deprived people more likely to have car crashes. ScienceDaily. September 18, 2018. https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/41/10/zsy144/5067408