According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, getting only five hours of sleep in 24 hours puts drivers at an increased risk for car accidents. People who sleep for only five hours are two times as likely to get in an accident as people who sleep at least seven hours.
Sleeping five hours or less raises the risk of accidents to four times the rate of people who get adequate sleep. This is nearly the same accident rate as people who drive drunk.
The effects of sleep deprivation on driving
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is a common problem in the U.S. Over one-third of people do not get the amount of sleep they need. People who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders experience a range of symptoms that make driving extremely dangerous, including:
- Impaired motor skills
- Impaired judgment
In addition, people with insomnia often take strong prescription sleeping medications, which can cause increased drowsiness in the morning. These types of issues can make it difficult to focus on driving and make good decisions behind the wheel. People who are sleep deprived can have trouble keeping the car on the road, responding to traffic signals and managing changing traffic conditions.
Just like drunk and distracted drivers, if a drowsy driver causes a car accident, they may injure themselves, their passengers and other people on the road. Passengers and other drivers can hold drowsy drivers responsible for vehicle damage and injuries they cause, as well as things such as lost wages, and pain and suffering.