Study: Even missing just an hour of sleep increases crash risk

Drowsy driving is entirely preventable and highly dangerous to people on Connecticut roads.

Everyone has a sleepless night from time to time. People in Connecticut may be up all night with a baby or with their own thoughts. Those rough nights make for rough days. It is possible to feel the effects of even missing just an hour or two of sleep. People may find themselves getting an extra cup of coffee because they stayed up too late to watch a show or finish some work.

It may seem insignificant to only miss an hour of sleep, but a new study suggests otherwise. In fact, people who get less sleep are actually at a greater risk of being in a car accident.

The study

Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety pulled a representative sample of car crashes that occurred between July 3, 2005, and December 31, 2007. The investigations into these accidents included information on how much sleep the drivers had gotten.

The most important takeaway from the study is that even getting an hour or two less than the recommended 7 or more hours of sleep a night puts a driver at risk of an accident. More specifically, the results showed the following in comparison with someone who slept for seven or more hours:

  • Drivers who slept less than four hours in the 24-hour period leading up to the crash were 11.5 times more likely to be in a crash.
  • Sleeping four to five hours had 4.3 times the crash rate.
  • Five to six hours was linked to 1.9 times the crash rate.
  • Sleeping six to seven hours had 1.3 times the crash rate.

Another interesting comparison takes into account regular sleep patterns. Drivers in the study who typically sleep for only four to five hours a day had a crash rate that was 5.4 times higher than people who typically get seven or more hours of sleep.

The effects of drowsy driving

Humans can do a lot of things while sleep-deprived, but driving is something they simply should not attempt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 800 people died in 2013 as a result of the behavior, and roughly 44,000 suffered injuries.

This happens because being drowsy behind the wheel means someone is less able to remain focused on the road. Additionally, reaction time is delayed, and someone who is not well-rested lacks the ability to make good decisions.

A drowsy driving car accident is entirely preventable. When they do happen, victims in Connecticut may seek legal recourse against the responsible party. Anyone who has questions about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney.