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The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released a new study that shows drowsy driving is a much more prevalent factor in car accidents than previously thought by federal authorities. Federal estimates suggest drowsy driving is a factor in one or two percent of all crashes; but in the AAA study, 9.5 percent of all crashes involved a drowsy driver. In severe crashes, the percentage of drowsy drivers grew to 10.8.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 35 percent of American drivers do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep every night. In a survey done by AAA, 96 percent of all drivers said they see drowsy driving as a serious threat, yet 29 percent had to admit there had been times in the previous month when they were driving and having trouble staying awake.
Missing a few hours of sleep may not seem like a big deal, but in fact those missing hours quadruple the risk of a crash. Studies show that a sleep deprived driver functions like a drunk driver, with the same reduced reaction times and alertness.
The only thing a driver can do to regain normal function is to sleep. Fresh air and coffee are no substitute, because the need for sleep will eventually get the better of a driver’s attempts at staying awake.
The AAA study is unique, in that 3,593 drivers allowed cameras to be placed in their own cars for several months to record them driving. The drivers were selected from six different locations across the United States for the study, which took place from October 2010 to December 2013. According to AAA, the study is the most in-depth ever done on the problem of drowsy driving.
Analysis of the videos allowed researchers to assess how fatigued drivers were in the moments before a crash. They defined drowsy drivers as those whose eyes were 80 percent closed, or covering the pupil at least 12 percent of the time, in the minutes leading up to a crash.
The cameras captured 700 crashes, ranging from minor to severe. Thirty-one percent of the wrecks were deemed severe and resulted in either significant property damage, rollover, airbag deployment, or injury.
Drivers need to make a concerted effort to sleep at least the recommended minimum of seven hours a night. If you realize your car is drifting across lanes, your head or eyelids feel heavy, or you have trouble remembering the last few miles driven, you should not be behind the wheel.
If you encounter this, pull over in the nearest rest stop to take a 20-minute nap. On long drives, take breaks to rest, or alternate driving duty with a well-rested passenger.
If you have been injured by a drowsy driver, the dedicated Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you recover compensation. Our experienced team will investigate your accident and advocate on your behalf to obtain the maximum possible compensation allowable in your case. Call us today at 302-427-9500 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation in our Wilmington, Bear or Milford offices.