A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety stating that drivers who are one or two hours shy of seven hours of sleep a night are more likely to double their risk for getting into a crash the next day. The study insists that driving while extremely sleep-deprived can increase a drivers risk of crashing – while the idea of sleep deprivation causing accidents is not a new concept, researchers were very surprised at the fact that there were detectable increases in crash risks when a driver had slept just one hour less than the seven hours recommended by sleep experts.
The study indicated that the crash risk increased steadily as the amount of sleep decreased. Their findings were as follows:
- Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash risk
- Five to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk
- Four to five hours of sleep: 4.3 times the crash risk
- Less than four hours of sleep: 11.5 times the crash risk
Basically – “the crash risk of a driver who has slept for only four to five of the past 24 hours is approximately quadruple the risk of a driver who has slept for the expert-recommended minimum of seven hours, similar to the crash risk of a driver who is legally intoxicated relative to a sober driver,” said Brian Tefft, who was the lead researcher in charge.
Tefft did note that the study did have some limitations, such as not including data on crashes that occurred between midnight and 6am – and analyzing how the lack of sleep within in the past 24 hours was associated with crash risk – rather than the quality of sleep people were getting each night.
With the holidays here and everyone being stressed about holidays, gifts, time with family, work, etc. it is no wonder that people are sleep deprived and that sleep deprivation can be one of the major causes of accidents this holiday season.
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