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Sleepy Behind the Wheel? You May as Well Be Drunk, Study Shows

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2019 | Auto Accidents |

According to a recent study from AAA, drowsy drivers are actually causing more accidents—and are at least as dangerous as—drunk drivers. The study showed that accidents caused by drowsy driving is underreported. The study examined video clips of drivers who were recorded falling asleep at the wheel who either came close to being involved in an accident or did cause an accident.

Pam Fischer is a safety consultant who formerly served as the executive director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Safety. Fischer authored a 2016 report on sleepy driving that was submitted to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

Fischer commented, “Drowsy driving is grossly underreported and I applaud AAA for helping to shine the spotlight on the problem via this research.”

Federal agencies that track motor vehicle accident data report that 1 to 2 percent of accidents are caused by drowsy drivers. However, actual figures are probably closer to 10 percent.

Dr. David Yang, who serves as the executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, commented, “Drowsy driving is a bigger traffic safety issue than federal estimates show.”

In the study, some cars contained cameras that pointed at the driver. Other cameras operated like dash cams and recorded the road. Approximately 3,500 drivers were recorded for several months during the study. The study also examined the driver’s eye and head movements for a three-minute period before the driver lost control.

Researchers were able to determine how drowsy a driver was by implementing a measurement that used how long the driver’s eyes were closed. With this data, the researchers concluded that sleepiness was involved in 9.5 percent of all traffic crashes and 10.8 percent of those involving property damage.

New Jersey is one of two states that have laws in place to address drowsy drivers who cause injuries or death. According to “Maggie’s Law,” someone who causes a fatal crash may be charged with vehicular homicide if that driver has not slept for more than 24 consecutive hours before getting behind the wheel.

According to AAA, the only way to combat drowsy driving is to get some sleep. The agency recommends pulling over to take a 20-minute nap. William Van Tassel, AAA’s manager of Driver Training, commented, “Short term tactics like drinking coffee, singing, rolling down the window will not work. Your body’s need for sleep will eventually override your brain’s attempts to stay awake.”

If you notice that you are drifting in and out of your lane, having trouble keeping your eyes open, or cannot remember the last few miles of your travels, it is time to pull over.

If you were injured by a drowsy driver, contact Lomurro Munson LLC today

At Lomurro Munson LLC, our motor vehicle accident attorneys hold drowsy drivers accountable for the injuries they cause. We are familiar with the signs of drowsy driving and work hard to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to. To schedule a free consultation with our New Jersey personal injury law firm, call 732-482-9285 or contact us online.