Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement

Man yawning while driving

According to a new study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (PDF) and released Tuesday, drivers who are just one or two hours shy of the recommended seven to eight (7-8) hours of sleep each night nearly double their risk for a crash the next day.

“While we do not think anybody would be surprised to learn that driving while extremely sleep-deprived increases a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash — this admittedly is rather intuitive — we were surprised to find a detectable increase in crash risk when a driver had slept even just one hour less than the seven hours recommended by sleep experts,” said Brian Tefft, senior research association for the foundation, who led the new study.

A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February found that more than a third of adults in the United States reported getting less than seven hours of sleep daily. The CDC even has called insufficient sleep a “public health problem.”

The attached AAA study featured data on 7,234 drivers who were involved in 4,571 vehicle crashes, from 6 a.m. to midnight, between 2005 and 2007. The data were from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, which included how much sleep drivers reported having in the 24 hours preceding a crash.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that drivers who had slept for less than four hours had 11½ times the crash risk rate of drivers who had slept seven hours or more; drivers who had four to five hours of sleep had 4.3 times the risk; those who had five to six hours had 1.9 times the risk; and those who had six to seven hours had 1.3 times the risk.

In other words, “the crash risk of a driver who has slept for only four to five of the past 24 hours is approximately quadruple the risk of a driver who has slept for the expert-recommended minimum of seven hours, similar to the crash risk of a driver who is legally intoxicated relative to a sober driver,” Tefft said.

Tefft noted that the new study had some limitations, such as not including data on vehicle crashes between midnight and 6 a.m. and analyzing how only a lack of sleep in the past 24 hours was associated with crash risk, rather than quality of sleep. “The study was designed specifically to investigate the relationship between acute sleep deprivation and crash risk,” he said.

If another driver caused your car accident, such as by driving tired, you are likely entitled to pursue compensation by filing a claim against the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy. The Pinkerton Law Firm, PLLC can help you by gathering evidence to prove fault in the case, preparing your claim and representing you with the insurance company. We are car wreck attorneys and 18-wheeler wreck attorneys. If the responsible party refuses to pay you the amount that you deserve, The Pinkerton Law Firm, PLLC may take the case to trial in pursuit of a jury verdict in your favor. If you are in need of a Houston car accident attorney, look no further than The Pinkerton Law Firm, PLLC. If you’ve been in a car wreck, we know how to get you the money that you deserve.

As soon as possible after your automobile accident, contact us for a free initial consultation. We can review your case to determine liability for the accident, as well as discuss the impact of the situation in order to establish how much you might receive in a settlement or jury verdict. When you hire us, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

We work on a contingency-fee basis; you do not have to pay us a fee up front and will owe us nothing unless we win your case. You cannot rely on the insurance company to look out for your personal interests; they are not on your side. Don’t take chances with the outcome of your case by attempting to resolve it on your own. Let The Pinkerton Law Firm, PLLC put our skill and experience to work for you in the pursuit of fair compensation for your car wreck injuries.

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