Drowsy driving causes more than 5,500 traffic deaths a year and is a factor in nearly 17% of all fatal crashes. This estimate is a much higher estimate than previously believed. The analysis from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 1999 through 2008 finds a much higher prevalence of drowsy driving in deadly crashes than earlier studies. A 1994 analysis found it was a factor in just 3.6% of fatal crashes, and NHTSA says it plays a role in 2%-3% each year.
The new traffic study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that:
- 41 % of drivers surveyed said they have fallen asleep or nodded off at the wheel at some point in their lives;
- 11 % reported they fell asleep or nodded off while driving within the last year;
- Teenagers and men are much more likely than other groups to fall asleep while driving;
- More than half the crashes where drowsy driving was a factor resulted in the driver drifting into other lanes or off the road;
- 70 % of the drivers who fell asleep or nodded off reported that they thought they were awake enough to drive but then found themselves struggling to stay conscious; and
- 16.5 percent of fatal crashes in the U.S. are linked to drowsy driving;
A 2002 survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 37 percent of drivers reported falling asleep or nodding off while driving at some point in their lives, including 11 percent within the past year.
The 2010 study also had some interesting findings based upon the age and the sex of the driver.
- Drivers ages 16 to 24 were 78 % more likely than drivers between the ages of 40 to 59 to have been drowsy prior to an accident;
- In cases where a crash occurred, men were 61 percent more likely than women to have been drowsy at the time, the survey said.
The 2010 study also noted that drivers who are very sleepy suffer from reduced reaction time and impaired vision and judgment, similar to the effects of driving while drunk. If a driver drinks coffee or other caffeinated beverages to help stay alert, he or she should do so about 30 minutes before driving to give the caffeine time to enter the bloodstream and take effect, the AAA said.
A 1999 study published by AAA found a strong positive correlation between work and sleep schedules and with involvement in a sleep-related crash.
- Compared to drivers in non-sleep crashes, drivers in sleep crashes were nearly twice as likely to work at more than one job and their primary job was much more likely to involve non-standard hours;
- Working the night shift increased the odds of a sleep-related (versus non-sleep-related) crash by nearly six times;
- Time spent asleep per night was also a strong risk factor: the fewer the hours slept, the greater the odds for involvement in a sleep-related crash.
- Drivers in sleep and fatigue crashes were more likely to report difficulties falling or staying asleep and were more likely to rate the overall quality of their sleep as “poor” or “fair.” They were also twice as likely as drivers in non-sleep-related crashes to admit that they got an inadequate amount of sleep; and
- Few drivers reported having a diagnosed sleep disorder, but drivers in sleep-related crashes were more than twice as likely to have elevated Epworth scores, which indicate excessive daytime sleepiness.
Montes Law Group, P.C .
Attorneys: Rachel Montes
1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100
Irving, Texas 75063
Telephone: (214) 522-9401
Facebook @ Montes Herald Law Group, L.L.P.