This year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety announced the results of an in-depth drowsy driving study. The organization found drowsy driving is eight times more dangerous than current federal estimates. This confirms drowsy driving is an under-reported yet significant issue. It could be contributing to far more crashes than law enforcement officials are aware of. This also means car accident lawyers should look for evidence regarding an at-fault driver’s fatigue following an incident. When a person drives knowing they have had far too little sleep, or when they are struggling to stay awake, this could be evidence of negligence.
If you were injured in a crash, and you believe a drowsy driver was to blame, contact an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney at the Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson.
The AAA Drowsy Driving Study
AAA analyzed in-vehicle dashcam video from more than 700 crashes. The videos were originally obtained during the Second Strategic Highway Research Program’s Naturalistic Driving Study, which was a federally funded study. The researchers recruited 3,593 drivers from six areas across the U.S. to be continually monitored through in-vehicle cameras and other data collection devices within their personal vehicles.
Through the videos, researchers examined drivers’ faces in the three minutes prior to a crash. They utilized a scientific measure to link the percentage of time a driver’s eyes were closed to that driver’s level of drowsiness at the time of the crash. This is known as the PERCLOS measure, and a driver was designated as drowsy if their eyes were closed in 12 percent or more of the video frames in the three minutes or one minute immediately prior to the crash. The researcher’s definition of “closed” meant the driver’s eyelids were more than 80 percent closed or covering the pupil.
AAA researchers coded PERCLOS during the full three minutes before an accident in 589 crashes and during one minute before an accident in 112 crashes. They found 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of high-severity crashes involved some level of drowsiness. This is much higher than estimates by the federal government, which up until now believed fatigue was involved in approximately 1-2 percent of crashes.
What Is Drowsy Driving?
Drowsy or fatigued driving occurs when someone drives on too little sleep. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night for adults. Teenagers should have 8 to 10 hours of sleep each day. However, the CDC also reports 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended amount. It found 72.7 percent of high schoolers did not get enough sleep on school nights.
The AAA warns drowsiness should not be gauged by physical signs, such as:
- Struggling to keep your eyes open,
- Not remembering the last few miles you drove, or
- Drifting from your lane.
By the time you have these symptoms, you are too tired to drive. You should work to achieve enough sleep each night in order to avoid drowsy driving.
Were You Injured in a Car Crash?
If you were injured in a car collision, and you suspect that the other driver was overly tired at the time, contact an experienced personal injury attorney and let them know about your concerns. An experienced personal injury lawyer will conduct an independent investigation of the crash to determine what happened and why, and gather evidence of liability.