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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.

Verdicts & Settlements

36-year-old laborer for landscaping company fractured wrist when fellow employee hit him with truck. Claimant received in excess of $30,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for total disability and medical expenses and settled with automobile insurance company for fellow employee for $95,000.

1989 workers’ compensation claim settled for $125,000. Claimant originally sustained a low back injury when she slipped and fell at local grocery store resulting in low back surgery in 1989. Several years later, claimant exacerbated her low back injury. Claim was reopened and settled with carrier for $125,000 in 2006.

47-year-old deli clerk sustained low back injuries at work for local supermarket. Carrier originally denied claim on the grounds that the injury was pre-existing. After formal workers’ compensation hearing carrier accepted claim and paid all total disability benefits and medical expenses in excess of $100,000. Case then settled for an additional $100,000 after injured person received a permanent disability rating.

34-year-old male roofer sustained multiple injuries to his shoulder, neck, back and hip when he fell from roof during work. Claimant was provided workers’ compensation benefits in excess of $100,000 and settled remaining claims for an additional $55,000.

40-year-old male working for cleaning company sustained neck and low back injuries when he fell on defective staircase while cleaning local museum. Claimant recovered over $95,000 in workers’ compensation benefits and resolved claim against museum for $85,000.

26-year-old laborer sustained fractured foot when a cast iron pipe was dropped on his foot. Employer and workers’ compensation carrier denied claim on basis that injured worker was an independent contractor. After a series of informal and formal workers’ compensation hearings, carrier conceded that claimant was an employee and settled case for $85,000.

24-year-old waitress sustained back injury while working at Outback Steak House. Workers’ compensation insurance company initially denied the claim. After a series of informal hearings, carrier accepted claim paying medical expenses and total disability benefits. In addition to those benefits paid, claim settled for an additional $75,000.

Delivery truck driver sustained right wrist fracture in rear-end motor vehicle accident while in the course of his employment. Claimant recovered in excess of $40,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses and total disability benefits. Claimant settled case against at-fault driver for $105,000.

22-year-old male working as stocking clerk at “big box” retailer sustained herniated disc in low back. Workers’ compensation carrier refused to accept the claim. After formal workers’ compensation, hearing commissioner ordered carrier to pay over $35,000 in past total disability benefits and pay for surgery and all related medical expenses. Case settled for an additional $35,000 for a total recovery in excess of $100,000.

Rear-end collision on entrance ramp to Merritt Parkway resulting in 49-year-old woman sustaining mid-back injury. Case settled at mediation after filing suit for $300,000.

28-year-old passenger sustained multiple herniated discs in automobile accident in New York state. New York no-fault carrier paid for extended period of disability from work and medical expenses, including expenses for surgery. Case settled against driver of vehicle for $300,000 policy limits shortly after filing suit.

54-year-old man sustains shoulder injury when hit from behind by uninsured motorist on New Jersey Turnpike. Case settled for $135,000 prior to trial.

CT Transit bus driver sustained torn meniscus in collision with another vehicle. Claims made against at-fault driver, workers’ compensation carrier and client’s underinsured motorist policy. All claims settle for a recovery in excess of $100,000.

68-year-old woman sustained neck and back injuries in rear-end collision and required extended course physical therapy, but was not a surgical candidate. Case settled for $100,000 prior to filing suit.

34-year-old woman sustained concussion and neck and back injuries in hit-and-run accident on a New York highway. Claimant settled uninsured motorist claim for her $100,000 policy limits.

80-year-old woman sustained right foot fracture when her foot was run over in a parking lot. Case settled for at-fault driver’s policy limit of $100,000 prior to filing suit.

38-year-old nanny sustained right femur fracture when she fell down defective stairs in home of her employer’s neighbor. All medical expenses and lost wages reimbursed and case settled for an additional $150,000.

Claim against landlord for defective staircase in multi-family rental house. Claimant sustained a right femur fracture. Case settled for $125,000 prior to filing suit.

$95,000 judgment obtained against bar and nightclub for assault by one of its patrons against another patron.

47-year-old woman sustained a broken left wrist when she fell from porch stairs at house she was renting. Case settled for $95,000 shortly before trial.

26-year-old male bitten on leg by German shepherd. Claim against dog owner settled for $65,000 plus payment of all medical expenses.