Driving while suffering extreme or chronic sleep deprivation can lead to:
- Slower reaction times
- Poor hazard-awareness
- Shorter attention span
All these factors lead to poorer driving performance, a higher likelihood of traffic accidents, and an increased possibility of serious injury resulting from an accident.
How Fatigue Impacts Driving Performance
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), going 24 hours without sleep has the same impact on driving performance as a blood alcohol content of 0.10%—higher than the legal limit in any state.
Data from the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS) suggests that fatigued drivers are twice as likely to make performance errors, including:
- Panic or freezing
- Poor directional control
How Common Is Driver Fatigue?
Driving while fatigued is more common than you might think. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF):
- In a typical year, around half of American adults admit to having driven while drowsy.
- Around 20% of people admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel.
- Young people, shift workers, commercial drivers, business travelers, and people with sleep disorders are at increased risk of driving while fatigued.
Fatigue Causes Traffic Accidents
Research suggests that sleepiness and fatigue cause between 10 - 30% of motor vehicle crashes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), police reports show over 100,000 fatigue-related crashes per year, leading to around 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries.
The AAA Traffic Foundation for Traffic Safety puts these figures even higher, estimating that drowsy driving is a factor in 328,000 crashes annually, including 6,400 fatalities and 109,000 injuries.
Aside from the performance issues associated with fatigue, the NHTSA suggests that falling asleep at the wheel is responsible for 7% of driver-related accidents.
Driver fatigue also tends to result in particularly severe crashes. Accidents resulting from driver fatigue are around 50% more likely to cause death or serious injury because drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel cannot swerve or brake to avoid impact.
Need Legal Advice on Drowsy Driving?
If you've been involved in a traffic accident involving drowsy driving, speak to an experienced and dedicated legal professional who can help protect your legal rights. Contact Inman & Tourgee online or call (401) 823-9200 today.