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Articles » Unconventional » DUI Versus Sleep Deprived Driving

DUI Versus Sleep Deprived Driving

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By StraightDUI Staff on 2/22/2008

Almost every day more proof comes to the surface in regard to the importance of sleep and how sleep deprivation can impact on an array of situations, particularly when driving a vehicle. Based on several studies taken from well-known publications, sleep deprivation is known to have the same dangerous effect as being drunk when driving. According to a 2000 study published in the British Scientific Journal, researchers in both Australia and New Zealand reported that people who drove after being awake for 17 to 19 hours performed worse than those with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, the legal limit for drunk driving in most western European counties. The U.S. and the UK set blood alcohol limits at .08 percent.

The National Science Foundation Research

In other studies, The National Science Foundation found that 62% of all adults surveyed in the US reported driving a car or other vehicle while they were drowsy. Twenty-seven percent reported that they had, at some time, fallen asleep while driving. Based on these studies The New York State Police has estimated that 30% of all fatal accidents on the New York State Thruway occur because drivers fall asleep at the wheel. Studies also suggest that truck driver fatigue may contribute to at least 30 to 40% of all heavy truck accidents.

Journal of American Medical Association Research

In findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that 34 young pediatric residents showed similar impairments in vigilance, attention, and driving skills on standardized tests after they had been on duty overnight in the hospital and worked a month of 90-hour weeks, compared with when they had consumed three to four alcoholic drinks after a month of 44-hour weeks with no overnight duties.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 100,000 police-reported crashes annually involve drowsiness/fatigue as a principle cause. About 1,000,000 crashes annually, which breaks down to about one-sixth of all crashes are considered the cause for driver inattention and lapses. Sleep deprivation and fatigue make such lapses of attention more likely to occur.

Occupational & Environmental Medicine Research

In another report from Occupational and Environmental Medicine it was found that getting less than 6 hours a night could affect coordination, reaction time and judgment, causing an even more serious risk to those getting behind the wheel of a car or truck. According to this study, 16 to 60% of road accidents involve sleep deprivation. Because there is no actual test for sleep deprivation, driving while sleep deprived is hugely under reported. With no means for identifying a sleep-deprived situation, most states don’t even have a code for sleep-deprived individuals.

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