Drowsy Driving/Fatigue Accounts for 17% of All Fatal Crashes

A new study indicates that one out of every six fatal crashes on the roads across the United States involves someone who is drowsy behind the wheel. Previous research had indicated that the results were actually 4 or 5 times less than this new number. Drowsiness is a contributor to one in every 8 serious or catastrophic injuries as a result of car collisions.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that people need to be more honest with themselves about their physical condition before they get behind the wheel of a car. In many situations involving drowsiness, individuals might overestimate their capabilities and end up hurting others as a result of this. If you are tired, you could lose many of the necessary characteristics to make proper judgement calls on the road and you could easily fall asleep behind the wheel.

Even losing control of the vehicle for just a couple of seconds can cause a devastating accident and the repercussions may continue to haunt you for years to come. If you have been injured because you suspect that another driver fell asleep behind the wheel, you need to take your case seriously. Do not hesitate to get medical attention as soon as possible after the accident, as it could be critical for you going forward.

Drowsy Driving Facts & Statistics

  • Drowsy driving is a serious problem in the United States. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) has found that determining a precise number of drowsy-driving crashes, injuries, and fatalities is not yet possible and relies on police and hospital reports to determine the prevalence of drowsy-driving crashes.
  • NHTSA reports in 2019 there were 697 fatalities in motor vehicle crashes that involved drowsy drivers, down 11.2 percent from 785 in 2018. Drowsy driving fatalities were 1.9 percent of total driving fatalities in 2019.
  • Between 2013 and 2017 there were a total of 4,111 fatalities that involved drowsy driving. In 2017, there were 91,000 police-reported crashes that involved drowsy drivers. Those crashes led to about 50,000 people being injured.
  • The AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety’s 2019 Traffic Safety Culture Index found widespread disapproval of drowsy driving among Americans–over 97 percent of drivers socially disapprove of drowsy driving and about 96 percent of drivers identify drowsy driving as very or extremely dangerous. Despite these attitudes, only 29 percent thought drowsy drivers risked being caught by the police. About 24 percent of drivers admit to having driven while being so tired that they had had a hard time keeping their eyes open, at least once in past 30 days.
  • An earlier  AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety report published in February 2018 monitored the driving behavior of about 3,600 drivers over several months between October 2010 and December 2013 using in-vehicle cameras and other data collection equipment. The study found that among drivers who had crashes, observable driver drowsiness, assessed on the basis of eyelid closures, was present in an estimated 8.8 percent to 9.5 percent  of all crashes. In addition, 10.6 percent to 10.8 percent of those crashes were severe enough to be reportable to the police. These proportions are significantly higher than statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which report that driver drowsiness was involved in an estimated 1.4 percent of all police-reported crashes nationwide, 2.0 percent of crashes that resulted in injuries and 2.4 percent of crashes that resulted in a death in years 2011 to 2015.
  • The Governors Highway Safety Association issued a report in August 2016 concluding that the estimated annual societal cost of fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes was $109 billion. This figure does not include property damage.
  • Although sleepiness can affect all types of crashes during the entire day and night, drowsy-driving crashes most frequently occur between midnight and 6 a.m., or in the late-afternoon, according to NHTSA.
  • NHTSA found that many drowsy-driving crashes involve a single vehicle, with no passengers besides the driver, running off the road at a high rate of speed with no evidence of braking. Drowsy driving accidents frequently occur on rural roads and highways.
  • The beginning of daylight savings is linked to an increase in auto accidents, according to an analysis by the University of British Columbia and a study by researchers at John Hopkins and Stanford University.
  • In 2018, 1,221 drivers who were involved in fatal crashes (or 2.4 percent) were reported as being drowsy

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Information Institute, Inc.