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Driver Fatigue is a Major Contributing Cause of Car Accidents

by | Jul 29, 2022 | Car Accidents

What is Drowsy Driving?

Fatigued or drowsy driving is quite common, and is likely more dangerous than you’d think. A driver can be considered “fatigued” if they have slept less than 4 hours in a 24-hour period. If you have experienced this level of sleep deprivation, it is best to avoid getting behind the wheel.

Driving while fatigued is similar to drunk driving:

  • Drivers’ reaction times, hazard awareness, and attention spans all get worse the more tired the driver.
  • Driving a vehicle after going 20 hours or more without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08%, the legal limit in the United States.
  • You are three times more likely to get into a car wreck if you are fatigued while driving.

How Common are Drowsy Driving Accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the United States sees an average of around 100,000 police-reported “drowsy driving” crashes. These crashes result in around 800 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. These statistics only take into account police-reported incidents, however, meaning that the actual number of fatigued driver accidents is likely much higher. It is difficult to determine whether a driver was fatigued at the time of a crash if it is not reported as such.

A study performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that nearly 328,000 fatigued driver accidents occur each year. That is three times the number of drowsy crashes reported by police. This same study found that in 109,000 of these fatigued driver accidents an injury was reported, and 6,400 of them were fatal. The researchers suggest that the prevalence of fatigue-related fatalities is more than 350% of the reported rate.

In addition to the toll on human life, there is also an economic cost. The NHTSA estimates that drowsy driving crashes that result in an injury or fatality cost our society $109 billion annually, not including property damage.

Interventions to Reduce Fatigued Driving Accident

Drowsy driving affects us all, but particularly those under 25, who make up more than 50% of all fatigued driving accidents. Interventions focused on this age group—men in particular—are therefore going to be more effective in reducing the frequency of these accidents. One of the most important ways to do so is to raise awareness of this issue, which is not often discussed.

Other potential ways to reduce drowsy driving include

  1. Accident-avoidance technology: New safety technologies, such as fatigue alert and lane departure warnings, can detect signs of drowsy driving patterns early on and warn drivers to take a break.
  2. College interventions: College students sleep much less than the average person, some estimates putting their hourly rest at less than 6 hours a night. Education and awareness programs aimed at college students might help reduce fatigued driving and instill good habits in students that can persist into their adult lives.
  3. Getting more sleep: Adults should get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research
  4. Medication labels: Making side-effect warnings clearer and more prevalent on medications in which they are relevant can help drivers understand when it is safe to drive and when it is not.
Attorney T.J. Smith

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If you or a loved one has been hurt in a motor vehicle accident in Kentucky, look no further than the law office of T.J. Smith. T.J. is an award-winning accident attorney located in Louisville, and he is ready to work around the clock to make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to. Don’t believe it? Just call and ask him yourself! You can reach T.J. on his personal cell at 502-262-1716. He’ll make ‘em pay!


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