Proven Link Between Tired Drivers and Fatal Crashes

It stands to reason that people who are tired are dangerous drivers and more likely to cause crashes.  Now there’s proof.

A study released in October provides a cause and effect relationship between fatigued drivers and motor vehicle crashes.  The study, titled “Acute Sleep Deprivation and Culpable Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement” and published in the October 2018 issue of the journal Sleep, examines the ultimate consequences of sleep-deprived drivers.

Researchers reviewed 5,470 motor vehicle accidents and interviewed the drivers involved, asking them to recount their time prior to driving. One startling fact they uncovered: 16 percent of the fatal crashes were caused by tired drivers.

Sleep-Deprived Drivers 15 Times More Likely to Cause a Crash

Researchers also confirmed an obvious suspicion that the less sleep a driver gets the more likely that person is to crash.  Those getting six hours of sleep, according to the study, are 1.3 times more likely to cause an accident compared to a driver who slept between seven and nine hours.  And those drivers who slept less than four hours before hitting the road were 15 times more likely to crash.

Extremely tired drivers are even more dangerous than drunken drivers.  The study’s authors equate drivers with less than four hours of sleep to drivers who are 1.5 times above the legal blood alcohol limit – or about nine alcoholic drinks.

Tired Truck Drivers

This study found that those driving for three consecutive hours without rest also raised their odds for crashing.  This is one reason why the federal Hours of Service rules for truck drivers are so important.  These rules dictate how long a trucker can be on the road, as well when and for how long they must rest.  Fatigued truckers have been responsible for numerous catastrophic crashes.  These rules – which the trucking industry has fought – are a responsible reaction to the dangers of sleep-deprived truck drivers.

One cause of sleep deprivation is sleep apnea.  This is a chronic condition that pauses a person’s breathing while asleep, forcing the person to wake up repeatedly each night.  These sleep disruptions typically cause the person to be drowsy the next day.

Federal rules say truck drivers diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea cannot drive until they are successfully treated for the condition.  However, the condition often goes undiagnosed or ignored by truck drivers who don’t want to be sidelined.

If there are any doubts about a lack of sleep and the dangers of crashing while you drive, this latest study should dispel them.  Those who know they are dangerously sleep-deprived owe it to others on the road to get the proper rest before heading out.

If you were seriously injured or had a loved one killed in a car or truck crash caused by another driver, contact a personal injury attorney to identify and hold to account all those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog December 10, 2018