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Just One Hour Loss of Sleep Increases Car Crash Risk

Missing an hour or two of sleep may not seem like a lot, but according to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, it can actually double your risk of getting into a car accident.

Even more disturbing is how many of us are driving around without the recommended seven hours of sleep each night. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC), 35 percent of drivers on the road are not getting enough sleep, which is leading to an alarming number of drowsy driving crashes. One if five fatal vehicle accidents are caused by a fatigued driver.

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The foundation used data from a representative sample of 7,234 drivers who had been involved in 4,571 crashes. This data was collected from the NHTSA’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. Only crashes where emergency medical services were called and at least one vehicle had to be towed from the scene was used.

The research concluded that if a driver has had less than five hours of sleep, they have a comparable risk of getting into a crash as a drunk driver. Missing two to three hours of sleep within a 24-hour period quadruples a driver’s accident risk, which is the same level of risk for a person who is driving while over the legal limit for alcohol. If a person gets less than four hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, they have almost 12 times the risk of getting into a crash as other drivers.

Almost all the participants in the study said they thought driving fatigued was unacceptable, yet more than 30 percent of them admitted to doing just that within the prior month of the study.

Symptoms of Drowsy Driving

It is important to know the signs that you may be too fatigued to drive. These symptoms include:

  • Having a difficult time keeping your eyes opened;
  • Not remembering the last few miles you have just driven; and
  • Drifting into other lanes.

It is also important to realize that many fatigued drivers do not have any symptoms before they fall asleep while driving. This is why it is crucial to travel during times you are normally awake, avoid heavy foods before you are going to drive, make sure to take a break every two hours or every 100 miles, and avoid medications which could impede your alertness.

Contact a Virginia Car Crash Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, contact a Virginia car accident attorney to find out what legal options you may have against the driver who caused the crash. Our Va. personal injury attorneys have worked with many injured clients and have successfully obtained the financial damages they deserved for their pain and loss.

Eric K. Washburn
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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