Study shows how fewer hours of sleep raise crash risks

According to surveys from the U.S. Department of Transportation and other agencies, one in three adult drivers in Ohio and the rest of the nation sleep less than the minimum seven hours that are recommended each night. This poses a problem since drowsy driving accounts for an estimated 7 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. and 16 percent of all fatal crashes.

A study recently published in the SLEEP journal has measured the risk that drivers run based on how little sleep they get. Researchers analyzed a previous study from the U.S. DoT that looked at 5,470 crashes and provided in-depth investigations for many of them. One advantage of this study is that it also takes into account interviews with the drivers themselves.

Compared to those who get between seven and nine hours of sleep, those who sleep six, five or four hours are 1.3, 1.9 and 2.9 times more likely to crash, respectively. Drivers who sleep less than four hours are 15.1 times more likely to crash; they are in the same situation as someone who drives after nine alcoholic beverages.

Sleep deprivation commonly leads to drivers making mistakes like failing to see a danger ahead or misjudging gaps in traffic. Driving more than three hours without a break can endanger drivers just as much as lack of sleep.

Drowsy driving is a form of negligence, so someone who causes a motor vehicle accident when they are drowsy will be to blame. A victim hurt in such a crash can consult with a lawyer about filing a third-party insurance claim. The attorney could bring in investigators and other experts to assist in proving the defendant's negligence and measuring the extent of the injuries.

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