Sleep experts have long believed that drowsiness or lack of sleep contributes to a higher accident risk involving drowsy drivers. A new study strongly confirms the link between less sleep and a higher accident risk.
Earlier research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety had estimated that a total of 7% of all accidents, including 21% of all fatal accidents involve drowsy driving. However, clear data about the exact link between less sleep and higher crash risk was not available. Recently, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted another study in which it examined data involving accidents that occurred between 2005 and 2007. This time, researchers found a strong relationship between the number of hours of sleep a driver had in the previous 24 hours and their accident risk.
Specifically, they found that drivers who had slept for less than four hours had their accident risk increase by 11.5 times the crash rate, compared to drivers who had slept for seven hours or more in the past 24 hours. Similarly, drivers who had slept for 4 to 5 hours, 5 to 6 hours, and 6 to 7 hours had a crash risk that was 4.3, 1.9 and 1.3 times the crash rate, respectively, of a person who had slept for more than seven hours.
In another analysis, researchers found that the crash rate of drivers who reported that they usually slept for four to five hours every day was five times the crash rate of drivers who slept for seven hours every day. Moreover, drivers who reported that in the past 24 hours, they had slept for 1 to 2 hours, 2 to 3 hours, 3 to 4 hours and four or more hours less than usual had an accident risk that was 1.3, 3.0, 2.1 and 10.2 times the crash rate respectively for drivers who reported that they had got their usual amount of sleep in the past 24 hours.
This important research reinforced what our car accident lawyers know to be true, which is that sleep deprivation does not have to be consistent. A person who has had less sleep over the last 24 hours could be at a significantly higher risk of causing an accident, even if his or her overall daily sleeping routine is healthy.
Sleep experts recommend that adults sleep for at least seven hours every day. It isn’t just healthier, but could also help you stay safe on the roads.