Sleep deprivation is a huge factor in crashes along the nation’s highways. Road-weary travelers trying to go a few extra miles before stopping to rest put their lives, and the lives of other motorists, at risk.
The National Sleep Foundation took a poll more than a decade ago of adult drivers in the U.S. t least 60 percent, or 168 million people, admitted they had driven while feeling tired. More than a third of them said they have actually dozed off at the wheel; 13 percent said they did so at least once a month. And four percent confessed that they had an an accident or came close to it because they were too exhausted to be driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This adds up to about 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. The figures might be much higher, as it’s difficult to accurately determine with absolute certainty whether more crashes are the result of dozing drivers. As the National Sleep Foundation points out, there is no Breathalyzer to measure sleepiness among motorists.
According to a separate report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, motorists who sleep six to seven hours a night are two times as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping eight hours or more. At the same time, scientists in Australia have found that being awake for 18 hours can impair a driver in the same way alcohol does.
There is arguably no bigger source of sleepy drivers than truckers, some safety advocates say, specifically the men and women behind the wheel of semi-trailer trucks who haul cargo across the U.S. daily.
Truck-related deaths hit a record low during the recession of 2009, when 2,983 truck accidents killed 3,380 people nationally, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. But the deaths rose as economic conditions improved. Two years ago, 3541 crashes took the lives of nearly 4,000 people, a 17.3 percent increase over the same period four years ago.
A Journal of Public Health article in 2013 found that nearly two-thirds of drivers routinely violated federal rest guidelines for financial reasons.
If you or a family member have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation. At The Fighting for People Injury Law Group of PollackSteinberg LLP, our experienced Pennsylvania and New Jersey personal injury attorneys will review your claims for free and help you hold negligent drivers and companies responsible for their actions.
To schedule your free, no-risk consultation, contact our office today by calling 800-549-4LAW (4529).