There’s more bad news for the chronically sleep deprived. Not only are they perpetually tired but also more at risk for causing a car accident. According to a AAA study, drivers functioning on less than 4 hours of sleep have crash risks similar to those of an intoxicated driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .12. (Rhode Island law defines a BAC of .08 or higher as driving while intoxicated (DWI)). So, an exhausted truck driver who skimped on sleep in order to reach their destination on-time may be just as much of a danger as a drunk driver on the road! The Providence, RI car accident injury lawyers at Tapalian Law know it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of an auto accident and this is especially true for car crashes caused by a sleep-deprived driver. We do know that truck drivers are particularly vulnerable to driving while tired due to long, and often monotonous, hours on the road. Recall the much publicized 2014 crash that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger in his vehicle. The truck driver who hit Morgan’s vehicle had been awake an estimated 28 hours before the collision took place and driver fatigue was cited as one cause of the deadly crash.
AAA Sleep Deprivation Study: Poor Sleep Alters Brain Function
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a review of data from 6,800 car accidents for the period of 2005-2007 to study the effects of sleep deprivation on driving. Only the data from drivers determined to be culpable (whose errors, actions, or lack of actions, led to the crash), were used. Accidents involving external factors, like brake failure or poor infrastructure, were not factored into the report. The goal of the review was to “quantify” the correlation between hours of sleep and crash risk. The study found that less than 7 hours of sleep increases a driver’s risk of a crash. By far, the greatest risk of crash occurs when a driver is operating on less than 4 hours of sleep. Poor sleep affects brain function and impairs judgement. Fatigued drivers are not just “nodding off at the wheel”, but their decision-making process is also highly impacted by poor sleep quantity and quality. Vehicle operators with less than 4 hours of sleep are more likely to be involved in a single car crash. Fatalities are 3 times more likely with a single vehicle crash than a multi-vehicle crash.