DROWSY DRIVERS EQUALS HAZARDOUS HIGHWAYS
Driving Drowsy Is a Serious Traffic Safety Concern
Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals driver fatigue is a factor for more car accidents than federal government statistics had indicated. According to AAA, 21% of fatal crashes involve drowsy driver’s. (The 2011 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report showed 2.5%). In terms of deaths per year caused by drowsy driving, AAA statistics put the figure at 6,400, compared to approximately 1,000 estimated by NHTSA.
Further, the results of AAA’s research – based on an assessment of 14,268 crashes from 2009-2013 in which a vehicle was towed from the scene – also indicate that 6 percent of all crashes, 7 percent of injury crashes and 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization involved a drowsy driver.
Drivers Overestimate Their Abilities to Drive While Drowsy
“Unfortunately, drivers often underestimate this risk and overestimate their ability to combat drowsiness behind the wheel,” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety President and CEO Peter Kissinger said in a news release.
AAA states that NHTSA’s low fatigued driving estimates are attributable to the fact that police officers have difficulty ascertaining driver fatigue because not only is there no physical evidence of drowsiness, but also because drivers are also often unable or unwilling to admit that they were fatigued. Other studies have found that drowsy driving causes impairment on par with drunk driving. for example, researchers in France, published a 2012 report in JAMA Internal Medicine which found that either being sleep-deprived or drunk both double the risk of a car wreck.
Professional drivers, namely over the rode truck drivers have been included in drowsy driving studies. In 1990, a National Transportation Safety Board study of 182 heavy-truck accidents in which the truck driver died concluded that fatigue played a role in 31% of the cases, more than alcohol or drugs. A 2006 Department of Transportation project known as the Large-Truck Crash Causation Study found that fatigue-related causes account for 13% of all trucking accidents. Not surprisingly, Federal officials cautioned that fatigue was often underreported in crash investigations because truck drivers do not want to acknowledge being sleepy, lest they be seen as at fault.
Are Some Drivers More Likely to Drive While Drowsy?
Studies show the answer is young drivers. Prior AAA research showed that drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 are the most likely (33%) to admit to drowsy driving. However, fatigued driving is problematic for people of all ages. You can protect your children. Go to http://drowsydriving.org/ and have them take the pledge against drowsy driving. Another group at increased risk for driving drowsy, not specifically addressed in this blog, are individuals who suffer from sleep apena.
While many drivers acknowledge the danger of driving while drowsy, fewer seem willing to pull over when they’re sleepy. According to the AAA research, despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans deem it ‘unacceptable’ to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28% admit to doing so in the last month.
If you have been injured in a car wreck and you suspect the driver was distracted, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving while drowsy, we are here to help. Contact Larry and Tina at 316-265-6000 for a free consultation.