Although the hazards of fatigued driving are widely known, experts say that motorists may be unaware of just how much sleep they really need. In early December, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study revealing that drivers might underestimate their need for sleep on a regular basis. News sources also point to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's findings that around 33 percent of Americans are routinely sleep-deprived as evidence of how dangerous the roads are.
The study examined data that was compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Police asked drivers who were involved in crashes how much sleep they got in the 24 hours before their wrecks, and the results showed that around one in five fatalities nationwide involved drivers who were sleepy.
The report ultimately came to the conclusion that driving on less than six hours of sleep instead of seven in a 24-hour time frame doubled motorists' chances of wrecking. With less sleep, people's driving worsened even more, and their accident rates increased accordingly. The researchers suggested that most drivers need no less than seven or eight hours of sleep before hitting the road, and one AAA spokesperson even recommended that motorists pause to take short naps every couple of hours when they drive for long periods.
When drowsy drivers are behind the wheel, they may fail to react quickly enough. Victims who are injured in collisions caused by exhausted or inattentive drivers may have to spend months or years recuperating, and the costs of medical care, lost wages and ongoing therapy can result in significant financial stress. People who have been harmed in such a manner may want to have legal help when seeking compensation for those and other losses.