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How Many Accidents Are Caused By Sleep Deprivation

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Transportation And Material Moving

Micro-Sleep May Be to Blame for Accidents

Next on the list are those who spend long days and nights on the road, across time zones and away from their own home and bed. Whether these folks drive a bus across states or drive an 18-wheeler from coast to coast, these men and women often miss out on vital sleep.

While some bunk in hotels, others stay in a compartment within their truck or other less homey environments while on the job.

Drowsy Driving Fatigue And The Risk Of Road Traffic Accidents

Drowsy driving has been shown to increase the risk of road traffic accidents. For example, a study that analyzed road crashes involving a vehicle towed from the scene concluded that a drowsy driver was involved in 16.5% of fatal crashes and 7.0% of all crashes in the analyzed dataset.7 Moreover, in an investigation of fatal sleepiness-related motor vehicle accidents, short sleep duration of fewer than 6 hours during the night preceding the accident was identified as a prominent and independent risk factor.8

Driving when tired has also been associated with an increased risk for road traffic accidents.9 A number of factors may affect how tired a driver feels, including the consecutive time spent driving, the consecutive resting time, the sleep duration within the 24 hours preceding the driving, and the biological 24-hour rhythms during the time of driving.10

The Prevalence Of Drowsy Driving

Driving while being tired or sleepy is also referred to as drowsy driving.5 Drowsy driving is a widespread problem, and a large survey conducted in 2010 among 2,000 U.S. residents reported that 41% of all drivers had nodded off or fallen asleep while driving at least once in their lifetime.6 The same survey showed that 4% and 11% of the drivers had nodded off or fallen asleep while driving during the preceding month or year, respectively.6

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What Happens Exactly When You Are Lacking Sleep

Sleep deprivation slows a persons reaction to stimuli it has much of the same effect as alcohol. This is an especially serious problem while operating a motor vehicle. When sleep deprived, a persons reaction time to a potential danger slows down. The accuracy of a needed response is also decreased. Moreover, sleep deprivation reduces a persons ability to stay alert, creating a serious lapse in attention that could easily cause a car accident. Simply put, a driver severely lacking in sleep becomes a driver under the influence: the more a person drinks, the higher the risk the less sleep, the higher the risk.

Risk Of A Car Crash Increases With Every Hour Of Lost Sleep

Many Means: Sleep Deprivation
  • If you only get five to six hours of sleep, youre 1.9 times more likely to be involved in an auto collision.
  • If you go 21 hours without sleep, its like having a BAC of 0.08%.

Drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep nearly double their risk of a crash.

Last weeks Canada Road Safety Week had police out across the country targeting high-risk driving behaviours. Distracted driving, drug or alcohol-impaired driving, aggressive driving, and failing to buckle up were all on the docket for enforcement to encourage compliance.

The police were also on the lookout for motorists who were driving while fatigued.

Drowsy driving is dangerous, and unfortunately, there are a lot of tired Canadian drivers on the road. A Traffic Injury Research Foundation survey found that 18.5% of people had admitted to nodding off or falling asleep at the wheel in the previous year. Its unlikely much has changed since this survey was last undertaken.

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Study: If You Get Behind The Wheel With Less Than 6 Hours Of Sleep Chances Of An Accident Skyrocket

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    Along with the many other areas of life affected by not getting enough sleep, inadequate shuteye also significantly increases the chances of causing a motor-vehicle crash. By how much? A new study took a shot at quantifying an answer to that question, and the results may surprise you.

    Public health campaigns frequently remind us that driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. But statistics suggest that even if most of us know thats true, we arent doing enough to change behavior. Driver drowsiness is responsible for an estimated 7% of all motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. every year and 16% of fatal crashes.

    Despite recommendations that most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep, surveys from the U.S. Department of Transportation and other agencies indicate that one in three adult drivers sleep fewer than seven hours a night, and many of us get less.

    For this study, researchers reviewed and analyzed data from a previous study by the US DOT, which involved in-depth investigations from 5,470 crashes. The study data had the added dimension of including interviews with the drivers.

    The results showed that compared to drivers getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night, those who reported getting six hours of sleep had 1.3 times the odds of causing a crash. Those who reported getting five hours had 1.9 times the odds, and those getting four hours had 2.9 times the odds.

    Increased Accident And Injury Rates

    According to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, accident and injury rates are 30 percent higher during night shifts. This supports the idea that long and irregular shifts lead to less sleep and more fatigue.

    The website lists worker fatigue as the cause of industrial disasters such as the 2005 Texas City BP oil refinery explosion which killed fifteen people and injured dozens of others, as well as the accidents at Chernobyl, and the Challenger space shuttle explosion.

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    Huge Disasters That Were Caused By Lack Of Enough Sleep

    NOTE: We earn from qualifying purchases made via Amazon Associates and other affiliate programs. Learn more.

    You may have made a few embarrassing mistakes that time you didnt sleep well but these poorly rested guys caused catastrophes and oftentimes many deaths. Read about these preventable accidents and then check out our mattress buying guide to find the best online mattress.

    Three Mile Island Accident

    Accidents From Lack of Sleep

    At approximately 4:00 AM on March 28, 1979, an avoidable accident occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor. A valve became stuck open in the secondary nonnuclear section of the plant and began to leak coolant everywhere.

    The valve had opened automatically to relieve the pressure after a mechanical failure had prevented water from reaching the steam generators, which was intended to keep the reactors cool. The valve should have closed on its own when the pressure was stabilized, but it did not. Instruments in the control room showed the valve as closed. By the time the crew was able to locate the source of the problem, the reactors core had melted.

    Unaware that they were dealing with a cooling problem, crew members ultimately made decisions that worsened the situation. The problem was complex enough, but when fatigue was added into the mix, they had the perfect recipe for disaster. Investigators eventually ruled that sleep deprivation was a significant factor.

    The aftermath was devastating. It took 12 years to clean up the mess and cost around $1 billion. Hundreds were sickened within the immediate area, and many animals and plants perished. The TMI-2 reactor has since been shut down permanently.

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    Other Disastrous Accidents Related To Sleep Deprivation

    Whether he was truly asleep at the wheel or just zoned out, Metro North train engineer William Rockefeller isn’t the only shiftworker to find himself at the center of a fatal accident with reports of sleep deprivation. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the accident got us thinking about the many disasters that have a working corps suffering from a lack of sleep at the center.

    Perhaps tragic accidents like this one — and the global catastrophes outlined below — can wake us up to the realities of skimping on sleep. The gravity of the following disasters — combined with the near-misses at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Ohio and Peach Bottom Nuclear Reactor in Pennsylvania — should serve as a reminder to all of us that sleep is utterly crucial.

    In a 1988 study on the connection between sleep and manmade catastrophes, a committee of researchers concluded that, in the examples cited below, “t cannot be proved that the human responses and errors occurring in all or most of these incidents and accidents resulted from lowered alertness, inattention, or delayed reaction due to active, sleep-related processes. Yet, it appears to be more than coincidental that the serious accidents were made worse by inadequate human response at a time when other data reflect a diminished capacity to function effectively despite one’s belief and best intentions. … Sleep and sleep-related factors appear to be involved in widely disparate types of disasters.”

    Prevalence Of Drowsy Driving Crashes

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every year about 100,000 police-reported, drowsy-driving crashes result in nearly 800 fatalities and about 50,000 injuries. The real number may be much higher, however, as it is difficult to determine whether a driver was drowsy at the time of a crash.

    A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that 328,000 drowsy driving crashes occur annually. That’s more than three times the police-reported number. The same study found that 109,000 of those drowsy driving crashes resulted in an injury and about 6,400 were fatal. The researchers suggest the prevalence of drowsy driving fatalities is more than 350% greater than reported.

    Beyond the human toll is the economic one. NHTSA estimates fatigue-related crashes resulting in injury or death cost society $109 billion annually, not including property damage.

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    Help Your Team Members Get Their Safety Sleep

    To reduce the likelihood of workplace accidents and poor decisions caused by sleep-deprived staff, consider the following steps:

    Its absolutely amazing that something as simple as sleep can have a tangible effect on your nonprofits mission. Interestingly, Tamara Lytles article states that organizational leaders may have greater ability to influence their employees sleep habits than other health habits such as nutrition and exercise routines. Make a worthwhile investment in your mission and your teammake sure everyone catches some Zzzzzs tonight!

    Warning Signs And Prevention Of Drowsy Driving

    Sleep Deprivation Car Accidents During the Holiday Season

    The risks of drowsy driving are becoming more evident, but many drivers do not actually consider themselves a danger on the road. While many of us are used to feeling tired, we deny the risks associated with sleep deprivation.

    Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of drowsy driving can prevent a large majority of serious and fatal car accidents:

    • Frequent yawning and blinking are signs of fatigue.
    • Missing exits and getting lost on familiar roads can result from sleep deprivation.
    • Lane drifting and erratic driving can accompany sleep deprivation.
    • Failure to yield to traffic lights and signals can result from poor concentration.
    • Black out driving where a person forgets driving the past few miles is common among those suffering from sleep deprivation.

    If you are driving and experience these symptoms, pull over and rest, or switch drivers in the car, if possible. Avoid drinking coffee or opening the window to wake up, as these are not useful for making a person feel more awake.

    Ignoring the warning signs of sleep deprivation puts your safety and the lives of all those on the road in danger.

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    Media Car Accident Lawyers At The Law Office Of Deborah M Truscello Help Victims Of Car Accidents Claim Compensation

    If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a car accident, the at the can help you claim the compensation you may be entitled to receive. Call us at or to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are located in Media, Pennsylvania and serves clients in West Chester, Delaware County, and throughout the state.

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    Can You Survive Without Sleep

    If you do not get the amount of sleep you need, even for one night, you might begin to experience the effects of sleep deprivation.

    Inadequate sleep causes problems that can include:

    • Slow physical and mental reaction time
    • Jitteriness

    Usually, after getting enough restful sleep for one or two nights, these problems go away.

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    Risk Factors For Road Traffic Accidents

    Both driver-related and driver-independent factors may increase the risk for road traffic accidents. Drowsy or distracted driving elevates the chance of road crashes. Aggressive driving and speeding increase the risk for a road traffic accident with a 3% higher likelihood for a serious crash with each 1% higher mean speed. Alcohol and certain drugs that affect the mind or behavior also surge the probability of road traffic accidents. Not using proper safety equipment also elevates the likelihood of serious or fatal injuries. Further, the risk for road traffic accidents can also be increased by unsafe vehicles, unsafe road infrastructure, or inadequate post-crash care.1

    Drowsy Driving In Teens

    Sleep Deprivation and its Weird Effects on the Mind and Body

    Sleep deprivation is common in teens and adults around the world. Among the many negative health and behavioral consequences of sleep deprivation, drowsy driving has the most immediate risk for serious injuries and death.

    Drowsy driving happens when a driver of a motor vehicle is too sleepy to stay alert. A sleepy driver will have slower reaction time, reduced road attention, and impaired ability to make good driving decisions. Research shows that driving after being awake for 24 hours is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.10, above 0.08 which is the legal limit of intoxication.

    The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that more than 6,000 fatal crashes are related to drowsy driving every year. Although not all of these drowsy drivers are teens, the National Safety Council estimates that drivers under the age of 25 are involved in at least 50 percent of drowsy driving crashes.

    Teens and young adults have a higher risk of drowsy driving because they are newer drivers who are often chronically sleep deprived. The combination of sleepy teens driving with limited skills and little experience poses a danger to drivers and pedestrians.

    Talia M. Dunietz is an 11th-grade student at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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    Prevent Drowsy Driving Before Taking The Wheel

    • Get enough sleep! Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep a day, while teens need at least 8 hours.
    • Develop good sleeping habits, such as sticking to a sleep schedule.
    • If you have a sleep disorder or have symptoms of a sleep disorder such as snoring or feeling sleepy during the day, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
    • Avoid drinking alcohol or taking medications that make you sleepy. Be sure to check the label on any medications or talk to your pharmacist.

    Sleep Deprivation Auto Crashes And Subjective Sleepiness

    Sleep deprivation may be associated with an increased risk for motor vehicle crashes even in the absence of subjective sleepiness. Sleep deprivation may cause drivers to feel drowsy and tired. However, sleep deprivation has been associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes even in cases in which the drivers have not experienced a subjective feeling of excessive sleepiness.18 Thus, a study on 3,201 individuals, among which 222 had been involved in at least one motor vehicle crash during the preceding year, found that sleeping 6 hours per night was associated with a 33% higher risk for a motor vehicle crash than sleeping 78 hours per night. When the analysis was restricted only to the 75% of the participants who did not report excessive sleepiness, the association between sleep deprivation and an increased motor vehicle crash risk was preserved.18

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation And When Do I Know I Am Too Sleep

    Most people are well aware of when they are too tired to drive, but the problem stems from the need to drive. Most people who rely on their own transportation do not want to give up their autonomy of getting behind the wheel, but thinking it through could save you an accident and perhaps your life. Knowing the symptoms of sleep deprivation and connecting them with the ability or lack thereof to drive a car is a good start.

    The most obvious of symptoms is the inability to keep your eyes open without a struggle. It is not normal to do so it therefore requires serious contemplation about whether or not operating a vehicle would be safe. Struggling to keep your eyes open can cause a plethora of problems, but it is important to know that roughly half of all car accidents from a lack of sleep occur without there having been symptoms of struggling to stay awake. You know you have not had enough sleep. You know you are tired. But the symptoms have manifested the way you would expect them to. It is like driving while intoxicated and not being fully aware of it.

    Assessment Of Possible Biases

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    Three potential sources of bias in the current study are violation of the assumption that nonculpable drivers comprise a representative sample of all drivers present at the times and places where crashes occur, bias in self-reported hours of sleep, and lack of data on alcohol and drug use for most drivers.

    Representativeness of nonculpable drivers

    To test the assumption that nonculpable drivers comprised a representative sample of all drivers present at the times and places where crashes occurred, the characteristics of the nonculpable driver sample were compared between three distinct groups of nonculpable drivers:

    • 1. Nonculpable drivers involved in two-vehicle crashes,

    • 2. Nonculpable driver involved first in crashes involving three or more vehicles, and

    • 3. Nonculpable drivers involved later in crashes involving three or more vehicles.

    The rationale behind this comparison is that nonculpable involvement later in the sequence of events in a chain-reaction crash arguably is influenced more by random chance and less by driver behavior or performance than is involvement as the first nonculpable driver in a crash. Thus, similarity between these three groups supports the assumption that nonculpable drivers comprise a representative sample of all drivers present when and where crashes occur, whereas dissimilarity refutes that assumption .

    Bias in self-reported hours of sleep

    Lack of data on alcohol and drugs

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