In October, a semi-truck driver told reporters he was lucky to be alive after conceding he fell asleep on I-95 in Lake Worth, causing him to lose control of his rig, which overturned. The crash closed traffic for seven hours while crews cleaned up and thankfully no one was hurt. But all too often, that isn’t the case when drivers fall asleep.
Statistics from the Florida Highway Patrol indicate the number of drowsy driving deaths are up in the Sunshine State. There were 14 recorded in both 2013 and 2014. Then in 2015, there were 23. Final figures for 2016 aren’t yet available, but we do know overall crashes were up significantly last year, so it’s likely tired driver wrecks were up too.
Now, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates sleep-deprived drivers are just as dangerous as those who take to the road drunk on alcohol. Perhaps especially surprising was just how much even a little sleep loss can impact a driver.
We all know the less sleep you get, the higher your risk of being involved in a car accident. But study authors found that even skimping on as little as one or two hours on any given night increased the crash risk by 1.3 times. That’s if you got six hours of sleep compared to the recommended minimum of seven hours. Meanwhile, drivers who slept between five and seven hours had an increased crash risk of 1.9 times. Drivers who slept between four and five hours upped their crash risk by 4.3 times. And drivers who slept fewer than four hours in the previous 24 were 11.5 times more likely to crash their vehicle than someone who had received the daily minimum level.
Someone who scraped by with just 4 to 5 hours of sleep had a comparable crash risk to someone with a blood-alcohol concentration of at or above the legal limit of 0.08. The risk of someone who drive with less than four hours of sleep was deemed “much greater” by researchers – in the neighborhood of a .12 to .15 blood-alcohol concentration.
The interesting thing is that while there is a well-deserved stigma when it comes to drunk driving – because we all know the severe impact impaired motorists have on our roads – yet functioning with as little sleep as possible is somehow seen as a badge of honor.
The report also identified certain groups that may be more at risk for these kinds of crashes, and they include those with fractured schedules. These are people whose jobs may require that they work some shifts at night and some in the day time. Some of the most common include:
- Long-haul truckers
- Police officers
While nearly all drivers responding to the AAA survey indicated they felt it was unacceptable – and further a threat to their safety – for other drivers to take to the roads while they were sleepy. Yet almost a third admitted that at least once over the last 30 days, they had personally driven when they were so tired they had a difficult time keeping their eyes open.
If you have been injured in a Miami auto accident caused by a drowsy driver, we will fight to help you recover damages.
Call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Sleep-deprived drivers have plenty in common with drunk drivers, Dec. 6, 2016, By Ashley Halsey III, The Washington Post
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Third-Party Liability for Distracted Driving Accidents? Dec. 10, 2016, Miami Car Accident Lawyer Blog