Everyone knows the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. It is well-known that operating a vehicle while under the influence of a substance is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the road, both for yourself and other motorists. However, did you know that driving and lack of sleep can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of a substance? How can sleep affect driving?
It’s especially important to be aware of this fact because almost everyone can admit to driving without enough sleep. Whether it’s a long trip back home from a vacation or it’s part of your job as a commercial driver, most of us can admit to struggling to keep our eyes open while driving without enough sleep.
In this blog, we discuss the statistics of driving and lack of sleep and the effects it can have on your safety as well as the safety of other drivers on the road. We also discuss some key tips to keep in mind to avoid dangerous driving when you are fatigued.
Drowsy Driving Statistics
The statistics on sleep driving indicate that this problem should be taken more seriously, especially for those that regularly sleep less than 7 hours per night. A 2016 study done by AAA found the following statistics:
- A driver operating on less than 5 hours of sleep has the same odds of getting into a car accident as a drunk driver
- These odds are doubled for individuals who have had 1-2 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period
- Driving without enough sleep is a contributing factor in more than 20% of all fatal accidents in the U.S.
- Those who reported sleeping 5 to 6 hours per night had almost double the risk of those who slept at least 7 hours or more
- Drivers going on 4 to 5 hours of sleep had similar chances of getting into an accident as someone with a BAC level of .08, while those with less than 4 hours of sleep had the same odds as someone with a BAC of .12 to .15
The dangers of driving and lack of sleep have been known for quite some time, but studies like these provide concrete evidence of just how much danger lies within operating a vehicle while fatigued. A similar study on drowsy driving accidents done by the NHTSA found the following:
- Fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel cause an estimated 100,000 car accidents every year
- Half of all respondents admitted to driving while drowsy
- Around 10% of respondents have fallen asleep behind the wheel, while about 20% have momentarily dozed off while driving
- About 1,500 people die every year due to fatigue-related car accidents, while almost 71,000 are injured in the same manner
- Including property damage, medical bills, and lost wages, the cost of falling asleep while driving is about $12.5 billion annually
- Men are more likely than women to fall asleep behind the wheel
Tips to Avoid Drowsy and Fatigued Driving
Many people think simply turning up the radio, rolling down a window, or turning off the heat in your car are enough to avoid sleeping while driving. However, these methods have been proven to be ineffective. Some proven tips to reduce the chances of falling asleep behind the wheel include:
- Avoid driving between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Avoid driving more than 100 miles without a break, whether it’s a 20-minute nap or a short coffee break
- Be on the lookout for signs of fatigue such as heavy eyelids, a wandering mind, or difficulty concentrating on the road
- Be wary of cruise control. While it can be a great feature, it can also cause your body to relax and focus less on the road which may result in dozing off
- Get enough sleep! Doctors recommend adults get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night
Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you were involved in an accident due to sleep-deprived driving, Crossen Law Firm is here for you. Our Indianapolis car accident lawyers are equipped with the knowledge and resources to help you with your claim and advocate for your best interest.