Study: Insomniacs Are More Likely to Be Involved in Fatal Accidents
Drowsy driving has made headlines time and again in the Carolinas and across the country. The phenomenon is especially reported when truck drivers cause accidents due to their exhaustion. While the effects of sleepiness behind the wheel have been well documented, it has only been recently that researchers have explored the link between insomnia and fatal accidents. If you are an insomniac or experience those symptoms, paying attention to these results could save your life.
Symptoms and Their Effects on Driving
The Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine published a study that evaluated more than 54,000 people over the course of several years. The people ranged in age from 20 to 89 years old. Researchers asked participants about their sleep habits, including if they experienced any of the following:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- An inability to stay asleep
- Having sleep that is not restful
Following up with the study participants years later, researchers learned that 277 people had experienced fatal injuries; 57 of those incidents were motor vehicle-related. The scientists concluded that people who display all three of the above symptoms were nearly three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than people who display no symptoms. Further, people who reported having difficulty getting to sleep were found to be more than twice as likely to perish in a car accident than those who do not have trouble falling asleep.
Corroborating the Findings
The National Institutes of Health published a study that supports the findings in the above report. In the NIH study, people with insomnia were found to have higher rates of all kinds of accidents, whether they took place in the car, at work or at home. Nearly 9 percent of study participants said they had fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once. Additionally, 4.1 percent admitted that they had a car accident due to their exhaustion.
Preventing the Problem
Researchers note that many of these accidents could be prevented if the people involved were treated properly for their insomnia. The National Sleep Foundation urges drivers to avoid getting behind the wheel when they feel tired. Some signs that you may be too drowsy to drive include experiencing an inability to focus, having disconnected thoughts or realizing that you don’t remember driving the last few miles.
Our attorneys at Nosal & Jeter, LLP have seen what can happen when drivers make the mistake of hitting the road while tired. Citations, accidents and even worse can stem from operating a vehicle while exhausted. If you are involved in an incident, remember that you have the right to an attorney who can represent you through the legal proceedings.