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Increase in Auto Accidents Caused by Drowsy Driving

Federal agencies and regulatory groups are always looking at ways to reduce car and truck accidents and prevent people from being hurt in them. Each year, millions get injured in car and truck accidents throughout Tennessee and across the country. Nearly all of these are caused by some form of negligence, whether it is looking down at a phone instead of focusing on the road, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or failing to properly maintain the car.

A common theme in car accident prevention is that many wrecks can be prevented by the drivers themselves. One particular way is by reducing drowsy driving. Drowsy drivers are those who are sleepy, tired, or fatigued, which leads to slower reaction times and lapses in judgment. Each year, drowsy driving contributes to as many as one million car accidents and 8,000 accident-related deaths.

Researchers have been studying drowsy driving for years. One study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found a direct link between lack of sleep and inattentiveness on the road. For example, drivers who had slept less than four hours in the previous 24 hours were 11.5 times more likely to get into an accident than drivers who had slept move than seven hours in the same timeframe. Alarmingly, the study found that sleeping only 4-5 hours can produce the same effects as a blood alcohol content (BAC) level that is equal to or slightly above the legal limit for alcohol. A separate study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that one in three drivers admitted to driving while drowsy.

A January 2017 study by Sleep, a scientific journal, also analyzed drowsy driving and how it contributes to car accidents. The study identified causes of this behavior and found that drivers are typically tired due to long hours at work, working more than one job, and irregular sleep schedules. Social life, such as going out with friends, also contributed to drivers being tired behind the wheel.

The study further found that many of the drivers surveyed were generally unaware of the dangers of drowsy driving. The study recommended educating citizens about side effects of tired driving, such as slower reaction times, lapses in attention, and poor judgment.

The State of Tennessee is doing just that, trying to keep citizens informed about how drowsy driving can take the lives of family members, friends, and loved ones in car and truck wrecks. The campaign is called “Live to See Tennessee – Don’t Drive Drowsy.” It points out how drowsy driving is a choice that the driver makes before getting into the car. It also discusses symptoms, which include fighting to stay awake, yawning, head bobbing, and drifting off of the road.

“Live to See Tennessee – Don’t Drive Drowsy” further shows which drivers are particularly susceptible to being sleepy behind the wheel. These include new parents, people who work long shifts, people who work more than 60 hours per week, younger drivers, and commercial truck drivers. Truck drivers who drive long shifts across many states must follow specific trucking regulations, as lawmakers have long warned about the dangers of truck driver fatigue. Further, people may be susceptible to drowsy driving but not even know it. For example, many drivers have undiagnosed sleeping disorders like narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

If you have been hurt in a car or truck accident in Tennessee, it is important to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney who can take the necessary steps to protect your legal rights. For a free initial consultation on your case, call the lawyers at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 800-529-4004.