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The Connection Between Sleep Deprivation and Car Accident Risks


It’s hard not to feel tired in today’s world. More people than ever are working two jobs, or at least a full-time job plus a side hustle. Add the stresses of parenting, running a household, maintaining friendships, and meeting other obligations, and it’s clear that sleep isn’t always a priority.

However, that has consequences. Fatigue causes serious health issues and deficits and is incredibly dangerous for drivers. Learn more about the link between fatigue and car accidents, and if you’ve been involved in an accident, call The Stein Firm at 770-824-3107 to set up a consultation with our team of Atlanta personal injury lawyers.


What Causes Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is a growing problem in the United States. While some people drive knowing they’re tired, others don’t realize the extent of their fatigue until their eyes start getting heavy. Some of the factors that contribute to drowsy driving include:

  • Losing as little as one hour of sleep the night before driving
  • Using sleep aids either before driving or on a regular basis
  • Taking anti-anxiety medications
  • Drinking before driving
  • Taking too few breaks while driving
  • Driving alone or with sleeping passengers
  • Sleep disorders
  • Shift work that disturbs your body’s natural sleep cycle

While knowing the causes of fatigued driving can help some drivers make smarter choices, others don’t realize just how dangerous tired driving can be. There’s a growing body of research that shows the risks.


How Fatigue Affects Your Driving

Most people who drive while tired would never even consider driving while impaired. And yet, driving while fatigued is very similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Per the National Safety Council, driving after being awake for at least 20 straight hours is similar to driving with a BAC of 0.08%. They also report that fatigued drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a car accident.

Another study, this one from BMC Medicine, looked at accident rates for drivers with excessive sleepiness or sleep apnea. Compared to those who slept seven to eight hours per night, drivers who slept six hours per night were 33% more likely to be involved in a crash. This was true both among drivers who reported excessive sleepiness and those who did not. Higher accident rates were linked both with self-reported excessive sleepiness and insufficient sleep hours.

Fatigue affects your driving in several ways, including:

  • Keeps you from paying attention: Drivers who are fatigued have a harder time paying attention to the road. They are more likely to be distracted by things in their car, their passengers, or their own fatigue. Having your attention off of the road for even a few seconds significantly increases your risk of being involved in a crash.
  • Slows down your reaction time: Even if you are able to pay attention to the road while fatigued, that doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to avoid a crash. When an obstacle crosses your line of sight, you have mere moments to make a decision. Tiredness impacts the part of your brain used to react to stimuli, and that delay could cost you.
  • Impacts your decision-making abilities: Strong decision-making skills are key for any driver. The ability to respond to threats appropriately is what makes a driver swerve to avoid a crash instead of freezing. Unfortunately, tiredness is detrimental to your ability to make sound decisions.


Fatigue is Driving Accident Rates Up

The CDC reports that fatigued driving was a factor in 91,000 crashes in 2017. This resulted in 50,000 injuries and almost 800 deaths. As our lives get busier and busier, this trend will likely continue to worsen until major changes are made. It’s important for each individual driver to do what they can to protect themselves and their loved ones.


Get the Help You Need After a Car Accident—Call The Stein Firm

Have you been injured in a crash caused by a drowsy driver? It’s time to talk to The Stein Firm. We’ll help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us at 770-824-3107 or reach out online to talk to one of our personal injury lawyers in Morrow, GA.

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