While many people know that newly licensed teen drivers are the age group involved in the largest number of fatal crashes, it might be more surprising that drowsy driving is a common factor in these accidents. Motor vehicle collisions caused by fatigue are most typically associated with truck drivers logging long overnight shifts behind the wheel of tractor-trailers. However, teenage motorists are the drivers most likely to be involved in a collision involving a sleep deprived motorist.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that about 20 percent of fatal crashes involve an overly-tired driver. Motorists between the ages of 16 and 25 are the age group most likely to be involved in a fatal drowsy driving collision. Motor vehicle safety experts have long recognized that sleep deprivation is a common factor in teen driving fatalities. This awareness has led many states to restrict motorists from driving during late night and early morning hours. For example, Florida restricts 16-year-olds with an Intermediate License under the graduated driver’s license program from driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Sleep deprivation only compounds the accident prone nature of teen drivers who are inexperienced with both driving and alcohol. The impact of lack of sleep significantly compromises the ability of teens to drive safely. Lack of sleep adversely impacts decision-making, slows reaction time, impairs coordination, and diminishes attentiveness. Sleep deprivation can have a similar impact on driving skills as alcohol impairment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that drivers who have been awake for 18 consecutive hours exhibit cognitive impairment that is equivalent to a .05 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC). When a driver goes without sleep for a 24 hour period, his or her driving impairment level is the equivalent of a .10 BAC level, which exceeds the legal limit for driving throughout the U.S.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently announced its new “Awake at the Wheel” campaign as part of their National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project to educated parents about the danger of sleep-deprived driving by teens. The goal of the program is to inform parents and promote discussions with their children about the risk of fatigued driving. The program organizers believe parents can improve driving safety by their teens by encouraging a consistent sleep schedule, modeling appropriate sleep behavior, discussing the risks of drowsy driving, and limiting “screen time” before bed.
Because we routinely see auto accident victims who suffer catastrophic injuries and the families of wrongful death victims, the Cressman Law Firm encourages all drivers to get adequate sleep before climbing behind the wheel. Parents should also encourage their teens to avoid driving without adequate rest. If you have been injured by a sleepy driver, the Cressman Law Firm has been taking on large national insurance companies to pursue the fullest compensation for personal injury victims for more than two decades. Mr. Cressman, an experienced Winter Garden car accident attorney, has successfully represented hundreds upon hundreds of clients. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a negligent motorist, Mr. Cressman invites you to contact us to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal rights and obtain a case evaluation by calling us today at (407) 877-7317.