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Increase in Sleep Problems Exacerbates Drowsy Driving Dangers

If you are having sleep problems, you aren’t alone. In fact, according to new data from Money News, there are as many as 70 million Americans who have insomnia, sleep apnea or other issues that make it impossible to get a good night sleep.

Unfortunately, all of these tired Americans could be putting themselves in danger. Getting an insufficient amount of sleep contributes to obesity, high blood pressure and other physical ailments. Of more immediate concern, however, is grave dangers of drowsy driving.

If you are one of those Americans who is facing sleep struggles, it is very important that you understand just how dangerous drowsy driving can be. Our Knoxville injury attorneys understand fatigue is often an undetected factor in serious or fatal traffic collisions. When we are tired, we simply don’t react quickly to dangers on the road. A new study shows just how widespread the risks are and is cause for concern for every driver.

Are Sleep Disorders on the Rise?
Money News reported that around 70 million Americans are suffering from sleep issues; it also indicated that many of those who have sleep problems are trying to get the help they need.

In fact, so many Americans have sought help that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine announced in December that they’d accredited their 2,500th sleep center. With this new accreditation, the number of sleep centers has significantly increased since the Academy started accreditation in 1977. In just the last ten years alone, the number of sleep centers has doubled.

While it could be seen as good news that more sleep centers mean more people are getting help with their sleep problems, the increase in demand for medical services related to sleep problems can also serve as an indicator that the problem of sleep interruption is becoming more widespread.

Why Are More Tired People a Problem?
Anyone who has trouble sleeping, including those working to overcome their sleep disorder, need to be aware that their fatigue can have consequences. If a drowsy person gets behind the wheel, this increases the chance of an accident significantly since the driver may be likely to nod off. A fatigued driver will also be less capable of thinking clearly or reacting quickly in an accident. The dangers of drowsy driving are so significant that drowsy driving may be just as serious as drunk or impaired driving.

Unfortunately, a new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention discussed in the New York Times indicates that many people are engaging in this dangerous behavior. The study was conducted across 19 states and D.C. and involved asking 147,000 people to complete detailed questionnaires. According to the data collected:

  • More than 5 percent of younger drivers (ages 18-44) said they’d fallen asleep while they were driving in the past month preceding the survey.
  • 1.7 percent of drivers 65 or older said they’d fall asleep in the preceding month before the survey.
  • 4.2 percent of all drivers surveyed reported falling asleep at least one time while driving in the month prior to being surveyed.

With so many people falling asleep, it is easy to see why there were 730 deadly crashes in 2009 that involved a fatigued driver. Unfortunately, with more people than ever before facing sleep problems, the number of drowsy drivers — and of drowsy driving deaths — may only continue to increase.

So, if you are one of those drowsy drivers, get help today to address your sleep issues and remember never to drive when you are tired. For all others on the road, beware of the risks of drowsy drivers and do your part to stay safe on the road.

If you are involved in a Tennessee car accident, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights at (865) 524-5657.

Additional Resources:
Tennessee Traffic Safety: Resolve to Be a Safer Driver in 2013, Tennessee Injury Attorney Blog, January 3, 2013.

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