AAA recently came out with some startling new data indicating that nearly 10 percent of all crashes, or roughly one out of every 10, is caused by drowsy driving. These numbers are up to eight times federal estimates. However, the difficulty in determining just how many motor vehicle accidents result from drivers driving drowsy lies in underreporting, especially in fatal crashes, where the true cause of an accident may appear to be overcorrecting or driver error when it is actually the case the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
With the uptick in the number of dashcam video cameras, researchers are now able to glean more reliable information as to how widespread drowsy driving actually is. The AAA study drew its analyses from just such cameras—700 of them in fact—each of them involved in a crash. The results showed that drowsy driving is more pronounced among the driving population than once believed.
The AAA study involved examining videos of the faces of drivers in the three minutes prior to their crashes. The researchers then linked the amount of time the driver’s eyes were closed to their particular drowsiness level. The results showed that 9.5 percent of crashes overall and 10.8 percent of those crashes that resulted in “significant property damages” were among drivers who were drowsy. Previous estimates by the federal government had found that only 1 to 2 percent of crashes resulted from drowsy driving.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that around 35 percent of drivers in the United States get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each day. In a survey by the AAA Foundation, 96 percent of drivers said that they believed drowsy driving threatened their safety on the roadway, but still, 29 percent, or roughly one in three drivers, admitted to driving in the preceding 30 days even though at times they could not keep their eyes open.
If that’s not enough to convince you that driving drowsy is a bad thing, then perhaps a warning from AAA’s Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research Director, Jake Nelson may put it in perspective. “Missing just two to three hours of sleep can more than quadruple your risk for a crash, which is the equivalent of driving drunk.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 72,000 crashes resulted from drowsy driving just in 2013. Of those crashes, 44,000 injuries resulted, many of them significant or catastrophic, on top of 800 deaths.
As a driver, it is important to know the CDC’s warning signs of drowsy driving, which include blinking or yawning frequently, difficulty remember the previous few miles driven, missing exits, drifting from the lane of traffic you’re in, and hitting rumble strips on the sides of the highway. The CDC says that drivers should always drive only after getting sufficient sleep. Special care should be given by shift workers, drivers with sleep disorders like sleep apnea, and drivers who take medication that can make them sleepy.
If you have been involved in an accident due to drowsy driving, contact our San Francisco car accident attorney right away to discuss your case details. Contact us to schedule your no-cost consultation now.