Study finds drowsy driving is a factor in 10 percent of crashes

A recent study has found that about 10 percent of accidents may be caused by drowsy driving.

A recent study has found that drowsy driving is far more prevalent than was previously believed. As CNN reports, the study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that about 10 percent of all car accidents are caused by drowsy driving, which is many times higher than official statistics had shown. The researchers note that official statistics, which rely on police reports, tend to underreport drowsy driving since drowsy drivers are unlikely to admit to being tired to a police officer.

Studying the prevalence of drowsiness

The study followed 3,500 drivers between October 2010 and December 2013. Each driver had a dashboard camera installed in their vehicle so that researchers could assess their behavior just prior to any accident. The study was the first to use the PERCLOS measure for assessing drowsiness, which is a measure of the percentage of time that a driver's eyes are closed .

The 3,500 drivers studied were collectively involved in 701 accidents. Of those accidents, drowsiness was a primary or contributing factor in 8.8 to 9.5 percent of them. In crashes that resulted in injury, airbag deployment, or significant property damage, drowsiness was a factor 10.6 to 10.8 percent of the time. Those figures are far higher than official government statistics, which cite drowsiness as a factor in one to two percent of all crashes.

Drowsiness an underrated factor

The reason government statistics so drastically underrate the prevalence of drowsiness is that they rely on police reports. Police reports are an ineffective method of gathering data on drowsiness since drivers are unlikely to admit to police that they were driving while sleepy. In accidents that result in fatalities, it may be impossible to determine whether or not a driver was fatigued. By using dashboard cameras, researchers were able to get a more accurate picture of the extent of the drowsy driving problem.

The fact that drowsy driving is more prevalent than previously thought is not exactly surprising. As CNBC notes, a previous AAA survey found that 29 percent of respondents admitted to driving while having trouble keeping their eyes open at least once in the past month. Another study also found that missing three to four hours of sleep per night can increase one's risk of an accident by almost four times.

Personal injury law

For those who have been hurt in an accident, it is extremely important to reach out for help as soon as possible. The financial toll of a crash, such as medical costs, physiotherapy, property damage, and lost income, can quickly add up. A personal injury attorney can assist victims in dealing with some of the ramifications of an accident, including by helping them file claims for any compensation they may be entitled to.