Sleep deprivation has become a major public health issue in the United States. Today, an estimated 70 million people in America suffer from some type of sleep problem or disorder. Many of these individuals are desperate for help to fight insomnia or other problems that are impacting their sleep cycles and, as a result, are compromising their health and well-being.
Unfortunately, the sleep-deprivation problem has also given rise to another serious problem: drowsy driving. Drowsy driving caused 730 deaths in 2009 alone and some estimates indicate that as many as one out of every five car accidents involves driver fatigue.
Our Bangor injury attorneys are concerned about the disturbing number of drowsy driving accidents and fatalities occurring each year. We urge everyone who is suffering from sleep problems to get the help that they need and we urge anyone who may be tired behind the wheel to pull over and rest before they put themselves or others in serious danger.
Drowsy Driving a Growing Problem
Clear evidence indicates that the number of people struggling with sleep issues is on the rise. According to a December article on Money News, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine now has more accredited sleep centers than at any point since its founding in 1977. The number of sleep centers has reached an all-time high of 2,500, which is double the amount of centers than existed just ten years ago.
People are flocking to these sleep centers for good reason. Insomnia, sleep apnea and even snoring can all make it impossible for a person to get a good night’s rest. When a person doesn’t sleep well, his cognitive and motor skills may be impaired; his reflexes may slow down; his blood pressure might rise; his resistance to insulin might rise; he may be more likely to be obese; and he may even experience sexual dysfunction. He may also have trouble staying awake on his commute, which can be the most dangerous of all potential side effects.
The Grave Dangers of Drowsy Driving
The news that more people are visiting sleep centers than ever before is not the only new information available that shows the widespread nature of sleep problems. The New York Times has also published information on a new study that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just released.
According to the new CDC study, more than five percent of young drivers between 18 and 44 have fallen asleep behind the wheel. The CDC interviewed 147,000 adults from 19 states plus D.C. to get the data. They asked detailed questions about sleep, driving and work, including the question of whether survey respondents had fallen asleep behind the wheel in the month before the survey. More than five percent of young drivers said yes, they’d nodded off at least once. Older drivers, too, are potentially guilty of sleeping and driving, although only 1.7 percent of older survey respondents said they had done so in the prior month.
On average, when considering all of the drivers surveyed, the number of people who had fallen asleep when driving in the prior month equated to 4.2 percent. Assuming the survey was reflective of the population as a whole, this means that just over four percent of the many millions of drivers in the U. . are nodding off.
With so many people seeking help for sleep problems and so many people admitting to drowsy driving, it is very important that every driver recognize the serious dangers of fatigued driving. Those who are driving drowsy should think twice about this risky behavior and those who encounter a potential drowsy driver on the road should be aware of the risk.
If you are the victim of a Bangor driving accident, contact us at 1-800-804-2004 or read more on our website.
NHTSA Touts Decrease in Traffic Fatalities as a Win, But Are We Really any Safer? Maine Injury Lawyer Blog, December 31, 2012.