Study highlights the dangers of drowsy driving in Ohio

Based on the findings of a recent study, drowsy driving accidents, which often result in serious injuries or death, may be more prevalent than reported.

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there were more than 280,000 auto accidents across the state in 2014. Many such collisions resulted in serious injuries or death for those involved. When people consider the causes of such wrecks, they often think of drunk driving and speeding. However, a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety highlighted the dangers that drowsy drivers pose on the roads throughout Ohio, and elsewhere.

Studying the impact of drowsy driving

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety performed a study to estimate the frequency of drowsy driving collisions. To accomplish this, researchers examined the data for more than 14,200 auto accidents that occurred between 2009 and 2013. The crashes studied were all analyzed by investigators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System, or NASS CDS. Further, only wrecks in which at least one vehicle was towed away from the scene were included in the study.

The NASS CDS' investigators examined how attentive the drivers involved were prior to the accidents. They labeled the motorists' level of attentiveness as attentive, looked but did not see, asleep or sleepy, distracted or unknown. In order to develop estimates that could be applied to all reported motor vehicle collisions, the researchers applied multiple imputation models.

Drowsy drivers pose a significant risk on the road

On the whole, the study's found that motorists who are fatigued or sleep-deprived pose a risk to themselves and others. The study's estimates showed that 21 percent of all fatal accidents and 13 percent of all injury collisions resulting in hospitalization involve drowsy drivers. These estimates are well above the reported government statistics. The government's statistics suggest only 2.5 percent of fatal wrecks and 2.2 percent of injury crashes are drowsy driving-related.

Based on the study's findings, it appears that motor vehicle collisions involving drivers who are fatigued or sleep-deprived occur much more often than is reported. When applied to all police-reported auto accidents, it appears that drowsy drivers contribute to 6,400 fatal crashes and 109,000 injury accidents annually.

Why is drowsy driving hazardous?

Most people know that falling asleep while behind the wheel is dangerous. However, simply driving while sleepy or fatigued may also pose hazards for motorists. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving may cause impairments including the following:

  • Compromised decision making
  • Decreased attentiveness
  • Delayed reaction time

Drowsy driving may occur due to motorists not getting enough sleep, drinking alcohol, using certain medications, being shift workers or having untreated sleep disorders.

Seeking legal guidance

As a result of drowsy driving crashes, people in Ohio and elsewhere may suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment. This may cause them to lose income while they are recovering and to incur undue medical costs. Therefore, those who have been injured in accidents involving drowsy drivers may find it of benefit to consult with an attorney. A lawyer may explain their options for pursuing financial compensation.