Frequently Asked Questions
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What factors lead to drowsy driving accidents?
Most adults require 6-8 hours of sleep each night to function up to their peak physical and mental capacity. Many things prevent people from getting enough sleep, with the most significant problems being
- Working alternate shifts
- Working long hours, especially as a commercial truck driver
- Caring for family members
- Experiencing poor health
- Suffering from sleep apnea or another sleep disorder
- Using medications
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
Missed sleep takes a cumulative toll, but even a single night of insufficient rest and recovery puts a driver at risk for nodding off behind the wheel.
Why is drowsy driving so dangerous?
Driving while struggling to stay awake has the same effect as driving drunk. Reaction time slows, focus slips and controlling the steering wheel and braking becomes difficult.
A car traveling at highway speeds covers the length of a football field in a few seconds, so closing one’s eyes for longer than blink creates extreme hazards. During that brief period, a drowsy driver can miss a stop sign or red light, drift out of his or her lane, or come up on a line of slowing or stopped traffic.
Plus, a driver who jerks awake to immediately see an impending crash is likely to respond inappropriately. Panic braking and jerking on the steering wheel cause many collisions.
How many crashes do drowsy drivers cause?
Estimates of the effects of drowsy driving vary depending on how statistics are collected. No research has yielded good news.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collected police reports from across the United States and determined that falling asleep at the wheel contributes to causing about 100,000 crashes each year. Those wrecks kill more than 1,550 people and leave around 71,000 others injured.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety monitored more 3,500 drivers with in-vehicle cameras for 40 months and found that nodding off was a factor in up to 9.5 percent of crashes. That would make drowsiness three times risker than the NHTSA figures suggest.