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Few of us get the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. We fuel up on coffee and blast the radio when our eyelids begin to droop while behind the wheel. It isn’t that dangerous, right?

Actually, driving while sleep deprived is dangerous. According to new research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving.

“Our new research shows that getting less than five hours sleep is the same as driving drunk,” said Robert Sinclair Jr., manager of media relations for AAA Northeast. The AAA report found the crash rate for drivers who slept only five hours was “similar to the U.S. government’s estimates of the risk associated with driving with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or slightly above the legal limit for alcohol in the U.S.”

Not getting enough sleep is incredibly dangerous for drivers and others on the road. According to the Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes, drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes each year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths.

Drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21% of fatal crashes.

Previous research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has estimated that as many as 7% of all crashes, 13% of crashes that result in hospital admission, and 21% of fatal crashes involve driver drowsiness.

Drivers who sleep less than four hours are 11.5 times more likely to crash.

The danger of getting behind the wheel after a late night and early rise are clear. But, how much greater is the risk of being in an accident if you’re driving tired?

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study concluded the following:

  • Drivers who slept less than four hours in the past 24 hours are 11.5 times likelier to crash.
  • Drivers who slept four to five hours in the past 24 hours are 4.3 times likelier to crash.
  • Drivers who slept five to six hours in the past 24 hours are 1.9 times likelier to crash.
  • Drivers who slept six to seven hours in the past 24 hours are 1.3 times likelier to crash.

The above statistics are respective to drivers who had slept for seven or more hours in the past 24 hours. Foregoing just two or three hours of sleep from the recommended seven hours increases the risk of a crash by an astonishing 400 percent.

It is important for us all to drive focused and stay safe on the roads. Drowsy driving crashes are most likely to occur during the late night, early morning, and mid-afternoon hours. Alcohol impaired driving is highest at night between 9pm and 6am, and on weekends and holidays.

If you were involved in an auto accident in Nebraska that you suspect may have been the result of drowsy driving, call our office today (402)558-4900 to schedule a free consultation. Our compassionate staff is available to help answer your questions and begin the process of seeking justice in your car accident case. Read what our clients have to say about us here.

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Matthew G. Miller serves clients throughout Eastern Nebraska and parts of Western Iowa including Douglas County, Sarpy County, Lancaster County, and Pottawattamie County, as well as the cities of Omaha, Lincoln, Bellevue, Papillion, Fremont, Blair, Elkhorn, and Council Bluffs.