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Insufficient sleep increases crash risk

Data gathered by the U.S. Department of Transportation and other organizations indicates that one out of every three adult drivers sleeps less than seven hours a night. Researchers examining data from earlier studies by USDOT determined that the odds of causing a crash increased as the number of hours slept decreased. In the 5,470 crashes studied, drivers who reported sleeping six hours per night were 1.3 times likelier to cause a crash.

The odds of causing a crash were 1.9 times greater for those who said they slept five hours per night and 2.9 times greater for drivers who reported sleeping four hours per night. Drivers who said they slept less than four hours per night had a risk of causing a car accident that was 15.1 times greater than those who slept between seven and nine hours per night.

Drivers who had slept for four or fewer of the prior 24 hours were at the highest risk of being in single-vehicle accidents. This type of crash, according to USDOT, has a higher likelihood of resulting in injuries or fatalities.

Driving for long periods can also increase the risk of an accident due to fatigue. Driving without a break for more than three hours increases crash risk, according to the study. Recent changes to the sleep schedule of the driver increase crash risk as well.

These results are consistent with the findings of an earlier study by AAA, which found a rise in crash risk for each hour of missed sleep. People who are injured in crashes because of fatigued drivers may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages or other damages. An attorney with experience in personal injury law might be able to help by identifying parties who may have liability or negotiating the terms of the money settlement with insurance companies.

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