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Missing Few Hours of Sleep Doubles Risk of San Diego Crash

The busy holiday season can interfere with getting enough rest. However, missing just an hour or two of sleep can double the risk of a San Diego crash, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The AAA Foundation study confirmed that the crash risk increases with the level of sleep deprivation. Below are several key findings:

  • 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

“You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.”

As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, sleepiness leads to crashes because it impairs the elements of human performance that are critical to safe driving, including reaction time, vigilance, and information processing. The warning signs of drowsiness can include trouble keeping your eyes open and focused; drifting out of your lane, swerving, following too closely and/or contacting rumble strips; inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven; and missing traffic signs or driving past your intended exit.

To avoid a drowsy driving crash, AAA encourages drivers to prioritize getting plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) in their daily schedules. For longer trips, drivers should also:

  • Travel at times when normally awake
  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Avoid heavy foods
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a San Diego car accident involving a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to compensation. We encourage you to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.