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Sleep-deprived drivers increase auto accident numbers

Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest health issues in the United States today. According to the Centers for Disease Control, insufficient sleep is at epidemic proportions in the United States.

Sleep in the right amount is necessary for refreshing both mind and body. Anything that disrupts sleep even temporarily – from caring for a sick child to laying awake worrying about an upcoming job interview – can lead to inattentiveness and loss of cognitive ability for up to a week, according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine Reviews. Chronic sleep deprivation of an hour a day results in the accrual of a sleep debt. This, in turn, results in problem sleepiness during the day.

Because sleep deprivation impacts a person’s ability to think and to react, any time daytime sleepiness is a problem it affects a person’s ability to safely drive a motor vehicle. According to the US National Department of Transportation, drowsy driving is responsible for 1550 fatal  auto accidents and 40,000 nonfatal crashes per year. Drowsy driving crashes occur primarily after midnight, with a smaller secondary peak during mid-afternoon. Drivers between the ages of 45 through 65 tend to have drowsy driving accidents around 7 am, which coincides with the morning rush hour in most areas. What makes drowsy drivers most dangerous is that the driver often crosses over the center line of a high-speed highway or crosses the median of an interstate and is unlikely to be functional enough to brake prior to impact.  

Even more dangerous than drowsy car drivers are semi-truck drivers who are sleep deprived. Despite legislation on the books that attempts to regulate the number of hours a semi driver can operate a vehicle without sleep, many of these drivers still push ahead, depending on caffeine and other stimulants to keep them alert. According to the New York Times, the accident that put comedian Tracy Morgan in the hospital was caused by a semi driver who had gone without sleep for more than 24 hours. 

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident caused by a drowsy driver contact us. We can help you receive compensation for medical bills or a wrongful death, property death and other financial situations that result from a serious auto accident.

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