Official government statistics estimate that one to two percent of car accidents involve drowsy driving. However, because drowsy driving is difficult to detect and is often underreported, many studies have estimated that number to be much higher. A recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that drowsy driving is actually a contributing factor in 8.8 to 9.5 percent of all crashes. Further, in crashes resulting in significant property damage, airbag deployment, or injury, drowsiness was present in 10.6 to 10.8 percent.
The federally funded AAA study, entitled “Prevalence of Drowsy Driving Crashes: Estimates from a Large-Scale Naturalistic Driving Study,” examined drivers’ faces in the moments leading up to a crash. The research was the most in-depth of its kind ever conducted in the United States. Researchers installed in-vehicle cameras for approximately 3,500 drivers and monitored them over several months. Footage of more than 700 crashes was obtained to determine the role of drowsy driving in car accidents.
Researchers calculated the percentage of time a driver’s eyes were closed to determine their level of drowsiness. The executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that drowsy driving is a much bigger safety issue than federal estimates show. The results of the study revealed that drowsiness was a factor in nearly eight times more crashes than previously indicated.
AAA warns that missing just two to three hours of sleep quadruples the risk of getting in an accident, compared to those who got seven hours of sleep. A previous AAA study revealed that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving and drunk driving have similar effects – slowed reaction time, decreased alertness and impaired judgment and vision.
AAA advises drivers to get sufficient sleep before driving and to be aware of the common warning signs of drowsy driving. These warning signs include drifting from your lane, difficulty keeping your eyes open, and not being able to remember the last few miles you drove. The manager of driver training for AAA cautions that temporary solutions like drinking coffee, singing, or rolling the window down will not work, and that the only way to combat drowsiness is to sleep.
To avoid being involved in a drowsy driving car accident, AAA recommends that drivers travel during times when they would normally be awake and avoid eating heavy foods or taking medications that can cause drowsiness. Drivers planning on taking a long trip should take breaks every two hours or 500 miles, travel with a passenger so they can take turns driving, and pull-over intermittently to take quick naps of no longer than 30 minutes.
If you were injured in a car accident and you suspect it was caused by drowsy driving, contact the Cherry Hill car accident lawyers at Williams Cedar. We can help you determine the cause of the accident, pursue a claim against the responsible party, and obtain compensation for your injuries. Call us at 215-557-0099 or 856-874-7500, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey and we serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.