Auto accidents are three times more likely for drowsy drivers

We all know that getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol is a dangerous situation that increases the likelihood of a motor vehicle accident. Many people do not consider other common hazards when they decide to operate a motor vehicle, however. For instance, when individuals are fatigued and get behind the wheel, the chance that an auto accident will take place also increases.

According to a recent study, the chance of a motor vehicle accident is actually three times greater when someone drives while he or she is fatigued. The study - published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine - focused on individuals who suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which an individual's breathing pauses while he or she is sleeping, reducing the quality of sleep. Consequently, those with sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from fatigue during the day.

The researchers followed over 2,670 people who suffered from sleep apnea and found they were more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than those who do not suffer from the sleep disorder.

Of course, those with sleep apnea are not the only people at risk of driving while drowsy. Another recent study conducted at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania examined the difference in alertness among individuals who sleep for different lengths of time each night.

The researchers found that those who sleep six hours each night or less are three times more likely to drive while fatigued than those who sleep at least seven hours. The statistics were even worse for those who generally slept five hours or less each night - the study found they were four times more likely to drive while fatigued.

Take action to avoid a drowsy driving accident

Regardless of the amount of sleep one typically gets, all motorists would be wise to be aware of the common signs associated with fatigued driving. Being cognizant of these indications of drowsiness can help reduce the likelihood of a serious auto accident.

For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that if a motorist is yawning often or blinking excessively, he or she may be making efforts to stay awake despite fatigue. In addition, if the driver starts to drift out of his or her lane or drives onto the rumble strip on the shoulder of the road, he or she is likely suffering from drowsiness. Whenever such symptoms are noticeable, the motorist ought to pull over to the side of the road to rest until he or she is alert enough to continue safely.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a fatigued driver, you may be entitled to compensation as a result of the damage caused. In such situations, seeking the advice of a skilled personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.