Lack of sleep greatly increases risk of car accidents

Illinois readers know that it's important to get enough sleep. However, they may be shocked to learn how much sleep deprivation can impact their risk of getting into a car crash.

Several studies have shown that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Federal statistics show that fatigued drivers play a role in 7 percent of all crashes and 16 percent of fatal crashes across the U.S. each year. Despite this, surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and other agencies show that one-third of drivers fail to get adequate sleep each night.

Unfortunately, lack of sleep can greatly increase the risk of a driver getting into an accident according to a new study. For the study, which was published in the journal Sleep in October, researchers analyzed DOT data from 5,470 car wrecks. They found that drivers who got 6 hours of sleep were 1.3 times more likely to get into a crash than drivers who got between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. Drivers who got 5 hours of sleep were 1.9 times more likely to crash, and those who got 4 hours were 2.9 times more likely. Finally, drivers who got less than 4 hours of sleep were a shocking 15.1 times more likely to get into an accident. That risk is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol content limit of 1.5 times the legal limit.

Drowsy drivers cause thousands of serious car accidents on American roads each year. Individuals injured in a drowsy driving crash may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver seeking compensation for damages. An attorney may be able to help prepare the complaint and push for the victim to get the maximum settlement amount possible. Typical damages sought in a personal injury lawsuit include medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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