Drowsy Driving Research

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving accounts for more than 83,000 motor-vehicle accidents each year and “16.5 percent of all fatal crashes…” in the United States (“Research on Drowsy Driving | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),” 2014.). As bad as those figures are, the true statistics are thought to be significantly higher, partly due to limitations on assessing drowsiness after an incident occurs. Indeed, a recent study performed by the Automotive Association of American (AAA) found that “21% off all fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver” (“AAAFoundation-DrowsyDriving-Nov2014.pdf,” 2014). These figures might lead you to conclude that driving while Drowsy is an irresponsible…show more content…
Despite having slept for only four hours, the man claimed to have felt alert when he left home, but had entered microsleep when he drove off the road and into the victims (“Driver who killed mother, injured baby is jailed for two years,” 2016). Across the U.S., state governments are raising awareness around the dangers of driving while drowsy, mostly with “Prevention Weeks”, but sometimes with punitive laws. For example, in New Jersey it is illegal to drive if you have been without sleep for 24 hours (“Summaries of Current Drowsy Driving Laws,”2015). While it should be obvious to most that it would be irresponsible to drive under such acute sleep deprivation, cognitive deficiencies can occur in those who are chronically sleep deprived. In fact, losing just a couple of hours of sleep on a consecutive basis can be harmful. Studies show the that the effects of sleep deprivation accumulates over time and that as a “slept debt” increases, reaction time decreases (Dinges DF, Pack F, Williams K et al., 1997, as cited in Bonnet & Arand, 2003). Since the CDC estimates that up to one third of Americans between 18-60 get less than 7 hours of sleep each night (Liu et al., 2016), this is an issue many of us should be concerned
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