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Are Tired Drivers More Likely to Get into Accidents?

Car Accident Attorney in Houston

Tired drivers, wake up! Driving while sleepy is dangerous, and even the loss of an hour or two of shut-eye can put you at greater risk of a car accident. A 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety succinctly outlines the dangers of driving while tired. Know the warning signs and the risks.

Driving Tired

The AAA study (which incorporates data from many official sources) contained some startling facts:

  • Sleep experts—including those at the National Sleep Foundation, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the Sleep Research Society—all recommend that adults sleep from seven to nine hours each day.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 18 percent of adults sleep fewer than 7 hours in any given 24-hour stretch, and this includes 2 percent who sleep fewer than 4 hours.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than a third of U.S. adults typically sleep fewer than 7 hours per night, and this includes 12 percent who typically sleep fewer than five hours per night.

That’s a lot of sleep deprivation, and sleep deprivation leads to accidents. If you were injured in a car accident caused by a tired driver, you need an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer. The legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, is here to help.

Accident Statistics

The AAA study goes on to state that U.S. adults are losing a lot of sleep, and this contributes to an increase in the risk of car accidents. The study analyzes data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, which focused on accidents involving at least one damaged vehicle that necessitated both towing services and emergency medical care.

The resulting statistics cite significant dangers for drivers who slept fewer than 7 hours during the past 24 hours and for drivers who slept more than one hour less than they normally sleep (no matter how many hours they normally sleep) when compared to drivers who slept at least 7 of the past 24 hours:

  • Those who slept six to seven hours were 1.3 times more likely to be in car accidents
  • Those who slept five to six hours were 1.9 times more likely to be in car accidents
  • Those who slept four to five hours were 4.3 times more likely to be in car accidents
  • Those who slept fewer than four hours were 11.5 times more likely to be in car accidents

While the results couldn’t control for drug and alcohol use and the sleep data was self-reported, these statistics clearly indicate the dangers of driving on too little sleep.

Driving Tired

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s own research determined that drowsy drivers (compared to drivers who’ve had enough sleep) experience twice the risk of making critical driving performance errors that can lead to dangerous accidents. A driver doesn’t need to fall asleep at the wheel to endanger both himself and other drivers. Driving on too little sleep can impair driving performance in significant ways. It can:

  • Diminish the driver’s alertness
  • Slow the driver’s reaction time
  • Distract the driver’s attention from the road
  • Impair the driver’s decision-making
  • Cloud the driver’s judgment.

When you get behind the wheel with too little sleep, you are at greater risk of an accident. Drowsy driving is always dangerous driving.

Signs of Drowsy Driving

When you hit the road, safety should always be your priority. Remember that some drivers with whom you share the road are drowsy. If you see another driver exhibiting erratic driving behavior, distance yourself from that vehicle as quickly and safely as possible. This is even more important when it comes to tired truck drivers—give big rigs plenty of driving space.

When it comes to drowsy driving, several telltale signs include:

  • Erratically speeding up and slowing down
  • Swerving, veering, or drifting in and out of driving lanes
  • Traveling at speeds that far exceed the posted speed limits
  • Overcorrecting driving errors
  • Making repeated driving corrections
  • Losing control of a vehicle

Always ensure that you’ve had enough sleep before you get behind the wheel, and pay attention to the other drivers around you. If you notice a driver who’s endangering the safety of others on the road, contact the authorities. Lives could be at stake.

Crashes Caused by Drowsy Drivers

The NHTSA reports that accidents caused by sleepy drivers often happen on rural roads and highways. Furthermore, although they can occur at any time and can happen anywhere, these accidents happen most often between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., or in the late afternoon hours. These are the periods when your circadian rhythms—or your internal sleep clock—dip. Drowsy driving crashes can also be single vehicle accidents where the vehicle (with the lone driver) leaves the road at high speed and exhibits no evidence of having braked. Don’t fall asleep at the wheel.

Contact an Experienced Houston Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or your loved one was injured by a drowsy driver, you know how terrifying that can be. Drowsy drivers are impaired drivers. Don’t leave your rights and your rightful compensation to chance—hire an experienced Houston personal injury attorney. At Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at law, we’ve represented claims like yours for more than two decades, and we’re here to help. We’ll investigate your case thoroughly, advocate for the recovery to which you are entitled, and file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary. If you need legal guidance, please don’t hesitate to either contact or call our team at (281) 664-6500 for a free consultation today. Remember—you pay us nothing up front when we take your case, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won your recovery.

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