Car Accidents Caused By Sleep Deprivation
Experts suggest that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. However, more than 30% sleep fewer than seven hours a night on a regular basis. Many drivers think they can function well on little sleep, but the statistics show otherwise. Sixteen percent of fatal car accidents are caused by drowsy driving.
Sleep is important, and generally, the more sleep, the better. Many people like to brag about how little sleep they need, but they’re not functioning at their full capacity on just several hours of sleep. If you get fewer than four hours of sleep, you have a 15 times greater risk of getting into a car crash. This is the same crash risk as a drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 1.5 times the legal limit.
Changes to a sleep schedule and driving for longer than three hours straight without a break also increased the risk of an accident. That’s because being awake and being alert aren’t the same thing. You could be awake but still fatigued, so you could fail to notice traffic or misjudge how much space you have, and either of these issues can lead to serious accidents.
Most accidents caused by sleep deprivation occur between midnight and 6 a.m.—when you should be sleeping. Once it starts getting dark, your body prepares itself for sleep, so if you keep on driving, you’re bound to start feeling the effects of drowsiness. You may start yawning frequently, closing your eyes briefly, and drifting out of your lane. When this starts happening, it’s recommended that you pull over and rest before you cause an accident.
Drowsy Driving Risk Factors and Prevention
The following risk factors can increase your risk of falling asleep while driving:
- Lack of sleep. Losing just one hour of sleep can make you suffer the effects of sleep deprivation.
- Use of certain substances. Sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications, and alcohol can all cause drowsiness.
- Driving long hours with no breaks. Driving can be a boring activity, so take breaks often to break up the monotony and reduce the risk of drowsy driving.
- Driving alone or with sleeping passengers. If you have nobody to talk to while driving, you run the risk of boredom and tiredness.
- Undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders. Sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and other sleep issues need to be treated properly or they can cause you to fall asleep at inopportune times.
To reduce the risk, avoid alcohol and sedatives before driving. Try to get close to eight hours of sleep per night. If you have problems sleeping, see your doctor.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. Inadequate rest is a huge factor in car accidents, so make sure you are getting close to the recommended 7-9 hours per night.
If you were involved in a car accident caused by a lack of sleep or some other factor, seek legal help from the Houston auto accident lawyers at The West Law Office, PLLC. Get the attention you need for your injuries and other damages. Schedule a free consultation by filling out the online form or calling 281-347-3247.