While most drivers are aware of the risks associated with driving under the influence or texting while driving, fewer consider the serious repercussions of driving while sleep-deprived. Lack of sufficient sleep can significantly impair your cognitive functions, reflexes, and ability to focus, making the road a dangerous place for you and others.

If you’ve been a victim of an accident where sleep deprivation was a contributing factor, the attorneys at Great West Injury Law can help. We specialize in representing clients who have been injured due to the negligence of others, and we are here to help you navigate the complexities of the legal system to get the compensation you deserve. Read on to learn more about the risks of sleep deprivation, and what you can do if your eyelids are drooping behind the wheel.

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Risk: What the Studies Say

Sleep deprivation and the risk of accidents have been the subject of various scientific studies, and the numbers paint a grim picture. According to a 2018 study published in BMC Medicine, individuals who get only 6 hours of sleep per night have a 33% higher crash risk compared to those who sleep for 7 or 8 hours. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also found that missing just one to two hours of the recommended sleep in a 24-hour period can nearly double the risk of a car accident.

One reason behind sleepy driving is our often overpacked schedules, leading many to sacrifice sleep for work, social activities, or even extended hours behind the wheel. In a culture that sometimes values ‘busyness’ over well-being, sleep is frequently the first thing to go, despite its critical importance to cognitive function and reaction time. Driving under such conditions makes one less capable of making split-second decisions, something that is often required to avoid accidents.

The consequences of sleepy driving are not to be taken lightly. A 2021 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that at least 50% of American adults admit to having driven while drowsy, and one in 25 reports having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past month. Furthermore, staying awake for 18 hours has similar detrimental effects on motor skills and reaction times as having a blood alcohol content of 0.05%, according to a study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

These statistics serve as a sobering reminder of the real risks involved in driving while deprived of adequate sleep. In severe cases, lack of sleep can lead to catastrophic outcomes such as multi-vehicle crashes, severe injuries, and even fatalities. When reflexes are delayed and decision-making abilities are compromised, the margin for error narrows significantly, turning a normally routine drive into a potential tragedy.

Tips for When You’re Drowsy Behind the Wheel 

If you find yourself drowsy while driving, or if you suspect another driver is falling asleep at the wheel, the following tips could be life-saving:

  • Pull Over and Take a Break: If you feel sleepy, the best course of action is to pull over to a safe location and take a 20-minute power nap. Continuing to drive could lead to catastrophic consequences.
  • Consume Caffeine: A small amount of caffeine can temporarily boost your alertness. However, it’s important to note that this is only a short-term solution and should not replace proper sleep.
  • Switch Drivers: If possible, switch drivers to let someone more alert take the wheel.
  • Report Suspected Drowsy Drivers: If you see a vehicle swerving or demonstrating other signs of impaired driving, maintain a safe distance and report it to the authorities.

Stay Alert with Great West Injury Law  

Driving while sleep-deprived isn’t just a personal risk; it’s a public safety issue. Ignoring the need for adequate sleep can result in dire outcomes, impacting not just the sleep-deprived driver but everyone else sharing the road.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a drowsy driver, don’t hesitate to contact Great West Injury Law. Our team of skilled attorneys can evaluate your case and guide you through the legal process, ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Remember, we’re here to stand up for your rights and make sure justice is served.