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How Many Car Accidents Are Caused By Sleep Deprivation

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Space Shuttle Accident: The Challenger

How Sleep Deprived Are You? | Brain Games

On January 28, 1986, the Challenger was set to launch from the Kennedy Space Center. 73 seconds after the launch, the shuttle exploded and killed all of the crew members on board.

According to a report from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration , the primary cause of the explosion was a failure in the pressure seal in one of the joints of the ship. However, NASAs human factor analysis report reveals that two managers only had two hours of sleep before starting work at 1:00 a.m.

The report admits these excessive work hours may compromise work performance, especially when quick and critical decision making becomes necessary. Unfortunately, these factors may have contributed to one of the worst tragedies for the American space program.

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Precise Numbers Of Drowsy

Unfortunately, determining a precise number of drowsy-driving crashes, injuries, and fatalities is not yet possible. Crash investigators can look for clues that drowsiness contributed to a crash, but these clues are not always identifiable or conclusive.

NHTSAs census of fatal crashes and estimate of traffic-related crashes and injuries rely on police and hospital reports to determine the incidence of drowsy-driving crashes. NHTSA estimates that in 2017, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers. These crashes led to an estimated 50,000 people injured and nearly 800 deaths.;But there is broad agreement across the traffic safety, sleep science, and public health communities that this is an underestimate of the impact of drowsy driving.;

What Is Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs when a person isnt getting his/her required amount of sleep each night in order to feel rested and functional throughout the day. The amount of sleep each person requires in order to function varies from one person to the next, but when a person isnt getting their desired amount each night a sleep debt begins to accumulate.

The amount of sleep debt a person experiences before becoming vulnerable to the effects of sleep deprivation also varies from one person to the next. Typically, older adults are less prone to sleep deprivation while children and young adults are more susceptible to it.

The effects of severe sleep loss can decrease a persons overall quality of life and cause difficulties in a persons ability to function every day.

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Drowsy Driving Is Similar To Drunk Driving

Your body needs adequate sleep on a daily basis. The more hours of sleep you miss, the harder it is for you to think and perform as well as you would like. Lack of sleep can make you less alert and affect your coordination, judgement, and reaction time while driving. This is known as cognitive impairment.

Studies have shown that going too long without sleep can impair your ability to drive the same way as drinking too much alcohol.

  • Being awake for at least 18 hours is the same as someone having a blood content of 0.05%.10-12
  • Being awake for at least 24 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol content of 0.10%. This is higher than the legal limit in all states.12-13

Additionally, drowsiness increases the effect of even low amounts of alcohol.14-15

Resources70 million

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Research on Drowsy Driving. . Accessed October 20, 2015.
  • Masten SV, Stutts JC, Martell CA. Predicting daytime and nighttime drowsy driving crashes based on crash characteristic models. 50th Annual Proceedings, Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine; October 2006; Chicago, IL.
  • Klauer SG, Dingus TA, Neale VL, Sudweeks JD, Ramsey DJ. The Impact of Driver Inattention on Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Study Data, 2006. Springfield, VA: DOT; year. DOT HS 810 594.
  • Dawson D, Reid K. Fatigue, alcohol and performance impairment. Nature. 1997;388:235.
  • How To Stay Safe On The Road

    Sleep Deprivation and Driving: It is as Bad as Drunk ...

    The best way to prevent drowsy driving accidents is to get enough sleep. You should also avoid drinking alcohol or taking any medications that could interfere with alertness. While driving, monitor yourself for signs of sleepiness, including:

    • Heavy eyelids or frequent blinking
    • Yawning
    • Poor recall of the last few miles
    • Drifting back and forth between lanes
    • Hitting rumble strips

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    Seek An Experienced New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer

    Were you involved in a car accident? You will need legal representation to help you assert your rights! Rossetti and DeVoto, PC is the premier New Jersey personal injury law firm. We are highly experienced in dealing with accident-related cases, and you can be assured that we will handle your case the best we can. Contact us at for a free initial consultation.

    Top 3 Factors Involved In Drowsy

    Sleepiness can strike and cause crashes at any time of the day but these top three factors are the most commonly associated with the issue:

  • Drowsy-driving crashes occur most often between midnight and 6 a.m. and late afternoon. At both times of day, people naturally experience dips in their circadian rhythm .
  • Crashes caused by fatigue often involved a single driver without passengers veering off the road.
  • Many drowsiness accidents occur on rural highways and roads.
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    Sleep Deprived People More Likely To Have Car Crashes

    Oxford University Press USA
    A new study indicates that people who have slept for fewer than seven of the past 24 hours have higher odds of being involved in and responsible for car crashes. The risk is greatest for drivers who have slept fewer than four hours.

    A new study in SLEEP indicates that people who have slept for fewer than seven of the past 24 hours have higher odds of being involved in and responsible for car crashes. The risk is greatest for drivers who have slept fewer than four hours.

    Experts recommend that adults should sleep for seven to nine hours a night, yet government surveys indicate that one in five U.S. adults sleeps for fewer than seven hours on any given night, and one in three report usually sleeping for fewer than seven hours. An estimated seven percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. and 16 percent of fatal crashes involve driver drowsiness.

    While the dangers of driving drowsy were already well known, this is the first peer-reviewed study to quantify the relationship between how much a driver has slept and his or her risk of being responsible for a crash. For this new study, researchers analyzed data from a previous study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which involved in-depth investigations of a sample of 5,470 crashes, including interviews with the drivers involved.

    Story Source:

    Why Is It Dangerous To Drive When You Are Tired Or Sleep

    Sleep Loss Effects – Danger: Sleepy Worker at Work – Safety Training Video

    In addition to the dangers of falling asleep behind the wheel, drowsiness has serious effects on a drivers attention, judgment, decision-making, coordination, vigilance, and reaction time.

    Drowsy drivers may find themselves weaving back and forth between lanes. They may have trouble maintaining the right speed and keeping an appropriate distance from other vehicles, and may be unable to react in time to avoid an obstacle. A significant proportion of drowsy driving accidents involve a single driver driving off the road or into another lane at high speed.

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    Drive Alert And Stay Unhurt

    Learn the risks of drowsy driving and how to protect yourself.

    Drowsy driving is a major problem in the United States. The risk, danger, and sometimes tragic results of drowsy driving are alarming. Drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue. This usually happens when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen due to untreated sleep disorders, medications, drinking alcohol, and shift work.

    Causes Of Sleep Deprivation

    Sleep deprivation has a variety of causessome are within a persons control, and others are not.

    When a person voluntarily deprives oneself of sleep on a regular basis this is known as behaviorally induced insufficient sleep syndrome, which is a form of hypersomnia. It must happen on an almost daily basis for three months or longer at a time. A person may also become sleep-deprived due to an involuntary sleep disorder or medical problem that is either physical or mental.

    Alternative sleeping schedules can also lead to sleep deprivation. Because of this, shift workers are highly susceptible to experiencing sleep deprivation and sleep disorders associated with it. Even non-shift workers can experience these issues.

    Consistently being woken up in the middle of the night for any reason could contribute to the issue. There may also be personal obligations that restrict the amount of time a person is able to sleep, such as taking care of family members or providing home care for someone who is sick.

    Those who are at the highest risk for sleep deprivation include teenagers, caregivers, military personnel, shift workers, those who suffer from sleep disorders, and those with various medical conditions such as Parkinsons disease that cause sleep difficulties.

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    How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Truckers And Cause Accidents

    As Dallas truck accident lawyers, were all too familiar with the human costs associated with sleep-deprived truck drivers. In 2019, crashes involving large trucks killed more than 5,000 people and injured 159,000 others, according to a new report by the Department of Transportation. Driver fatigue was the second most common…

    Prevalence Of Drowsy Driving Crashes

    Have You Been Hurt in A Car Crash Caused by Sleep Deprivation?

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every year about 100,000 police-reported crashes involve drowsy driving. These crashes result in more than 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 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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    How To Avoid Driving Drowsy

  • Getting adequate sleep on a daily basis is the only true way to protect yourself against the risks of driving when youre drowsy. Experts urge consumers to make it a priority to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.;For more information on healthy sleep, see In Brief: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep; at;the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website.
  • Before the start of a long family car trip, get a good nights sleep, or you could put your entire family and others at risk.
  • Many teens do not get enough sleep at a stage in life when their biological need for sleep increases, which makes them vulnerable to the risk of drowsy-driving crashes, especially on longer trips. Advise your teens to delay driving until theyre well-rested.
  • Avoid drinking any alcohol before driving. Consumption of alcohol interacts with sleepiness to increase drowsiness and impairment.
  • Always check your prescription;and over-the-counter medication labels to see if drowsiness could result from their use.
  • If you take medications that could cause drowsiness as a side effect, use public transportation when possible.
  • If you drive, avoid driving during the peak sleepiness periods . If you must drive during the peak sleepiness periods, stay vigilant for signs of drowsiness, such as crossing over roadway lines or hitting a rumble strip, especially if youre driving alone.
  • Seeking Expert Medical Help For Sleep Deprivation

    You may also want to seek the help of a sleep specialist or talk to your doctor about your sleeping habits. When doing so, it will help to have a sleep journal recording your hours of sleep each night over the course of a couple of weeks.

    A doctor will be able to diagnose any sleep disorders you may have, and may be able to detect any medical conditions that are responsible for sleep issues. Your doctor may prescribe some sleep medicine designed to help you fall and stay asleep throughout the evening.

    There are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids that can help a person fall and stay asleep. Some sleep medications are habit-forming, so its best to discuss this with a doctor before starting treatment.

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    Drowsy Driving In Teens

    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.

    Critical Reasons For Crash Involvement In Relation To Hours Of Sleep

    REM Sleep – How Much Sleep Do You Need

    shows the types of driving actions, inactions, and errors recorded by DOT investigators as the critical reasons for culpable drivers involvement in crashes in relation to the number of hours that they reported having slept. The distribution of the types of critical reasons differed significantly in relation to hours of sleep . Notably, the proportion of culpable drivers who were reported to have actually been asleep at the time of the critical precrash event increased monotonically with decreasing hours of sleep, ranging from 1.4 per cent among drivers who reported having slept for 7+ hr to 32 per cent among drivers who reported having slept for less than 4 hr . Overcompensation and poor directional control, possibly suggestive of a driver recovering from a microsleep, were also cited much more frequently among culpable drivers who reported less than 4 hr of sleep than among those who reported 4 or more hours of sleep . Excluding crashes in which the culpable driver fell asleep, the distributions of critical reasons were similar among drivers who reported 5, 6, and 7+ hr of sleep .

    Critical reasons for crashes in relation to hours of sleep in the 24 hr before the crash among drivers classified as culpable


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    How Often Do Americans Fall Asleep While Driving

    According to a survey among nearly 150,000 adults in 19 states and the District of Columbia:

    • 4% reported that they had fallen asleep while driving at least once in the previous 30 days.1
    • People who snored or usually slept 6 or fewer hours per day were more likely to report falling asleep while driving.1

    What To Do If Youre Hit By A Drowsy Driver

    If you have injuries, call 911. If there are no injuries, you should still call 911 to get a police report. The police report will document:

    • A summary of what each driver, passenger and witness remember about the accident
    • The time, date and location of the accident
    • A diagram of the accident
    • Weather conditions

    Its important to speak with the officers about how you think the other driver may be drowsy. Drowsiness should be noted on the police report as it will allow you to share proof with your insurance company later. This will give you better standing if the police officer notes driver drowsiness on the police report. An experienced attorney can also use this information to prove negligence on the sleep-deprived driver for causing the accident.

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    Oil Tanker Spills: Exxon Valdez Oil Tankers

    On March 24, 1989, one of Exxon Valdezs oil tankers hit the Prince William Sounds Bligh Reef in Alaska. Over a few days, about 10.8 million gallons of oil spilled into the water affecting over 1,000 miles of shoreline.

    A report from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council outlines five possible causes of this industrial accident. Among the five possible causes outlined, two identify sleep deprivation and fatigue as a possible contributing factor.

    The first possible cause is a failure to properly maneuver the vessel due to excessive workload or fatigue. Other reports claim that the third mate in charge of driving the vessel was napping because it was the only time he could rest after a 16-hour shift.

    Another reason was the companys failure to provide a well-rested crew to support the leaders of the vessel. During the crash, the crew just got off a 22-hour shift of loading oil into the cargo tank.

    Many experts believe that this was one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in history. Not only did it lead to the death of over 250,000 animals, but it also damaged the livelihood of the locals who were dependent on tourism and fishing.

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