Has the sun worn you out after a long day playing volleyball at the beach and now you have to drive home? Did you stay up late, wake up early and rush off to work? A new study shows that getting more sleep or a cup of Joe before you get on the road doesn’t just feel good, it could prevent an accident.
The new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study found that sleep deprivation is the number one cause of driver distraction resulting in crashes and near crashes.
Data from the 100-car naturalistic driving study shows that fatigue is a cause of one out of five crashes, rather than the 2 or 3 percent previously estimated based on surveys, simulator studies, and test tracks.
Like vampires, fatigue seems to be a bigger problem for us during the day.
Charlie Klauer, group leader for teen risk and injury prevention at VTTI’s Center for Vulnerable Road User Safety, said: “A finding that surprised people is the prevalence of fatigue during the day. We found significantly more crashes/near crashes due to fatigue during the day than at night.”
He added: “The study allowed us, for the first time, to observe driver behavior just prior to a crash. In 20 percent of all crashes and 16 percent of all near crashes, the driver was showing fatigue. We saw eye-lid closure, head bobbing, severe loss of facial musculature, micro sleep – which is when your eyes drift shut and then pop up,” said Klauer. “This was not just yawning. The drivers were asleep.”
Furthermore, study results show that 18- to 20-year-olds accounted for significantly more fatigue-related crashes than any other age group. “Adolescents’ sleep patterns shift to later hours, however, the school day still tends to start early, resulting in daytime sleepiness,” the release states.
Wake up people. Being asleep at the wheel is as bad as driving drunk or being otherwise impaired.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an auto accident because another driver was nodding off at the wheel, then Vanguard Attorneys may help you file a personal injury or wrongful death claim to recover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral and burial expenses. Please contact us for a free initial consultation.