As much as many of us would like to get to bed earlier or sleep in just a bit longer, our fast-paced lives often prevent this from occurring. Indeed, when we aren't busy working, running errands or managing some other personal crisis, chances are good we'll use the extra time to do anything but take catch up on some much-needed rest.
While we might think that the only person our sleep deprivation really harms is us, a recently published report by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows this might not necessarily prove to be the case.
GHSA researchers determined that on any given day here in the U.S. there are an astounding 83 million-plus sleep-deprived drivers out on the roads and highways. While this may not seem like much cause for concern, consider that the GHSA researchers found that drowsy driving was responsible for an estimated 5,000 fatalities in 2015 alone.
As if this wasn't shocking enough, consider that the researchers also found -- courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration -- that the annual societal cost of drowsy driving accidents resulting in serious or fatal injuries is $109 billion per year --- excluding property damage.
Furthermore, they concluded that the problem of drowsy driving might be even more serious than experts believe given that 1) law enforcement officials aren't trained to identify when it's occurred at accident scenes and 2) drivers who cause these types of collisions might be reluctant to volunteer this information due to liability concerns.
As to which parties were most likely to engage in drowsy driving, the researchers identified teens and young adults (involved in over 50 percent of these types of crashes per year), those people working nighttime hours or long shifts, and the estimated 40 million people with sleeping disorders.
While the GHSA's report is indeed disconcerting, the researchers did indicate that an increased emphasis on raising public awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving could prove highly effective much like it has for reducing impaired driving and improving seat belt use. They also suggest that people in general need to start changing their views on the importance of sleep in their lives.
Here's hoping that these things happen …
Always remember that if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car crash caused by the reckless actions of another motorist, you do have options.