While issues with drunk and distracted driving tend to capture the attention of the media, drowsy driving has been a consistent safety issue for some time in the U.S.
The problem has reached proportions large enough to garner the interest of major organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. How big is the problem of drowsy driving? New statistics indicate it should be a significant concern for drivers across the country.
Studies and awareness education
While self-reported drowsy driving incident rates have been consistent over many years, statistics linking drowsy driving to motor vehicle crashes have been surprisingly low, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The organization recently analyzed crash data from 2009-2013, finding drowsy drivers were involved in 13 percent of all crashes resulting in someone being sent to a hospital and 21 percent of all fatal crashes.
The most recent study also found that nearly one-third of all drivers reported getting behind the wheel when they were almost too sleepy to remain awake within the past month. More than two out of every five drivers admitted to nodding off at the wheel at least once in the course of their lifetimes. These results are consistent with other studies conducted by NHTSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The problem of drowsy driving also led to the establishment of National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week by the National Sleep Foundation. The designated week occurred November 1-8, 2015, and featured a forum hosted by NHTSA to expand education on the hazards of drowsy driving and potential countermeasures to curb those hazards. The forum took place November 4-5 in Washington D.C. and included various experts in the areas of traffic safety and sleep science.
Who is at risk for drowsy driving?
According to NHTSA, drowsy driving was a factor in 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths in 2013.
The National Sleep Foundation lists groups that are at high risk for drowsy driving:
- Younger drivers, particularly male drivers younger than age 26
- Individuals with untreated sleep disorders or sleep apnea
- Commercial drivers, especially those on the road for long periods
- Shift workers that work at night or work more than 60 hours per week
- Business travelers suffering from jet lag or long hours on the road
AAA recommends that drivers get at least six hours of sleep before a long drive and planning travel during normal waking hours. Research has shown that motorists driving at night are much more likely to be involved in crashes where falling asleep at the wheel was a factor. Other recommendations include scheduling breaks every two hours on long drives, and pulling over if the driver becomes too sleepy to drive safely.
Consequences of drowsy driving accidents
For the victims of a drowsy driving accident, the consequences can be life-changing. Severe injuries can lead to expensive medical bills, lost wages and disability that can impact a person’s ability to work and earn a living after the accident. In some cases, legal action is the best way to pursue compensation for those losses so the accident victim can move forward and heal fully from their injuries.
The New Jersey car accident attorneys at Eisbrouch Marsh provide free case evaluations to individuals who have been injured or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle collision. Discuss your accident with veteran lawyers who have the experience and resources to pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. Call 201-342-5545 for a free consultation.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Asleep at the Wheel: A Nation of Drowsy Drivers, http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/symposiums/november2015/index.html
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Prevalence of Self-Reported Drowsy Driving, United States: 2015, https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/PrevalenceOfSelf-ReportedDrowsyDrivingReport.pdf
- DrowsyDriving.org, Who’s at Risk, http://drowsydriving.org/about/whos-at-risk/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel, http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdrowsydriving/