Everybody gets tired, and sometimes that happens when we’re behind the wheel. But new research suggests that drowsiness is much more involved in crashes that previously realized. Government statistics suggest that drowsy driving contributes to only about 1-3% of all crashes in the U.S. each year. The new research, however, pegs that range was significantly lower than in reality.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety examined over 14,000 crashes, occurring from 2009-2013. Drowsiness as a crash factor was assessed by trained investigators, and advanced statistical procedures were used to estimate the proportion of drivers who were drowsy among those drivers whose status investigators were unable to ascertain.
The results showed not only that drowsy driving is involved in more crashes than previously thought, but also that the involvement of drowsiness as a factor varied depending on the type of crash. Seven percent of crashes in which a person received treatment for injuries sustained in the crash, 13% of crashes in which a person was hospitalized, and 21% of crashes in which a person was killed involved a drowsy driver.
It is worth noting that the data seem to indicate that the more serious the crash, the more likely drowsiness was found to have been a contributing factor. Indeed, this is consistent with previous research that showed that drowsiness-related crashes tend to involve greater injuries than alcohol-related crashes.
This research further confirms the importance of helping young drivers understand the risks of driving while drowsy, as young drivers are significantly more likely to be involved in these types of crashes.
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