Much has been written about the dangers of drinking and driving – and for a good reason. Alcohol dramatically affects a driver's ability to operate a car or truck. Those effects include:
• Reduced reaction time
• Impaired vision
• Feeling relaxed and drowsy
• Reduced concentration
• Difficulty doing several tasks at once
Interestingly, researchers now report that drivers who are sleep-deprived can be as dangerous as drivers who have had three or four drinks before getting behind the wheel.
Put another way – a drowsy driver is essentially a drunk driver.
Sleep deprivation is considered a serious public health problem in Connecticut and around the country. It's estimated that 35% of the adult population in the U.S. gets fewer than seven hours of sleep a night and that 12% get less than five.
One AAA study found that missing three to four hours of sleep a day quadruples the risk of getting in a crash compared to those who get seven or more hours of sleep. AAA also "found sleep-deprived drivers are almost twice as likely to be involved in an accident when they get five to six hours of sleep, more than four times as likely with four to five hours and nearly 12 times more likely to crash with less than four hours of sleep."[i]
Why do we think that driving when tired is a problem? The data proves it.
According to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving accounts for about 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities annually and an estimated 9.5% of all crashes. Other researchers estimate that 21% of all fatal crashes involve drowsy drivers.
AAA researchers suggest that any driver who's had less than five hours of sleep presents a risk to others equal to that of a drunk driver.
In fact, one AAA spokesperson stressed that driving with less than four hours of sleep is comparable to the crash risk associated with a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.12-0.15. The legal limit for adults in Connecticut is 0.08
Interestingly – the AAA also reports that while 97% of drivers admit that driving while drowsy is dangerous, more than 30% of all drivers in the study admit they'd driven in the last month when they were so tired they had trouble keeping their eyes open.
In one recent CDC study, one-in twenty-five drivers admit falling asleep while driving.
The lesson to learn from this data is simple…
Don't operate a motor vehicle if you have not gotten adequate sleep. This warning particularly applies to long-haul truck drivers, medical personnel, and, believe it or not – police officers.
And talk to your teenage drivers about the risks as well. Younger drivers tend to think they are indestructible – sleep or no sleep. As we all know – that is a dangerous belief.
If you or a loved one are ever in a car accident in Connecticut, know that the Connecticut car accident lawyers at RisCassi & Davis have been assisting people like you who've been injured in these accidents for over 60 years. And we have received both state and national recognition for our work in this area. If you are ever injured in an accident of any kind and would like a free consultation with one of our Connecticut injury lawyers, please contact us. There is no obligation.