Our Bucks County accident attorneys know that someone driving while they are tired is just as dangerous as someone who gets behind the wheel after several drinks. Similarly in both cases people are sometimes a poor judge of when they have reached their limit.
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is Nov. 12 through the 18th, declared by the National Sleep Foundation. A recent Sleep Foundation study poll found that fewer than 9 percent of all people queried received more than 8 hours of sleep. More troubling, about 30 percent said they receive less than six hours of sleep per night.
That’s not sustainable. And the fact that it has begun to get darker earlier means the risks are amplified.
While we often hear a lot about how this change affects shift workers (and it does!) a new study from AAA found that in fact younger drivers were more likely to drive tired than their parents or other older drivers.
The survey returned scary results: More than one in seven drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 reported they had fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in the past 12 months. Compare that to a survey of drivers of all ages, where one in 10 admitted the same.
This news is especially timely as many college students may be preparing to head home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
College students interviewed by the Associated Press said many of their peers don’t take fatigue into account when figuring their travel plans. There is a great deal of education with regard to drunk driving, which is no doubt a real problem. But college students and younger teens may assume a lack of sleep is simply something they can overcome with a good amount of mental stamina.
Of course, long-term lack of sleep can lead to problems such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Those who report sleeping less than seven hours a day often have difficulty at work or school, specifically with concentrating or remembering. (There are about 50 to 70 million U.S. adults who fall into this category.)
But even in the short-term, and especially behind the wheel, driving while tired is deadly.
The Intelligent Transportation System conducted a study in 2009 showing that the less sleep a person received the more likely they were to have less control over the steering wheel.
A similar study at Stanford University found that those who suffered from sleep loss actually performed worse on driving tests than individuals who measured a blood alcohol level of 0.057 percent, just under the legal limit. For example, reaction time for drinkers with that blood alcohol level was measured at 263 milliseconds. By contrast, reaction time for the average sleep-deprived participant was 266 milliseconds.
In order to avoid dangers, the National Highway Safety Administration recommends:
- Get plenty of sleep prior to a long trip;
- Avoid heavy foods;
- Travel with a companion and take turns driving;
- Avoid medications that may cause you to become sleepy;
- Avoid travel times when you might normally be sleeping;
- Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Philadelphia, Bucks County or anywhere in Pennsylvania, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers at Flager & Associates. Call us at 1-215-953-5200.