When you ask someone what the most dangerous actions behind the wheel are, they’re likely to give you an answer from a short list: texting, using a cell phone, or driving drunk or under the influence of drugs.

They might be aware that eating and drinking while driving is also a problem, or even that talking to passengers in the car is one of the most frequent causes of distracted driving crashes, especially for younger drivers.

But most people might not immediately mention drowsy driving, even though it’s one of the biggest risk factors on the road. Flashier problems with greater media interest, like texting while driving or Instagram speed filter crashes, tend to grab the headlines.

One in Five Fatalities

The drowsy driving problem is not new: Traffic researchers have been aware of it for many years, and federal regulations for commercial drivers have included on- and off-duty rest period rules for quite some time.

Researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have repeatedly estimated that about 2.5 percent of traffic fatalities can be directly blamed on drivers who fell asleep at the wheel. Their latest report, released this fall, attributed more than 4,100 deaths between 2011 and 2015 to this problem.

Others think those numbers don’t account for the true scale of the problem. In a 2014 report, AAA determined that sleepy drivers may account for closer to 21 percent of all fatal crashes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees that the problem is probably much more serious: Researchers believe that around 6,000 deaths each year might be the result of drowsy driving.

Even the NHTSA acknowledges that its data collection methods might lead to significant underestimation.

Less Sleep, Higher Risk

It’s not simply a matter of trying to stay awake too long, either. Drivers who don’t sleep enough before hitting the road have a measurable and escalating risk of causing a crash. Anything less than seven hours of sleep brings an increased risk, with a mere two-hour sleep deficit nearly doubling crash risk.

It goes up sharply from there, with drivers who slept less than four hours having a crash risk more than eleven times that of drivers who got a full night’s rest. That’s the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.12 to 0.15—nearly double the legal limit for an automatic drunk driving charge.

Long Island Car Accident Lawyer

When you’ve been the victim of a car accident, it’s important to contact an experienced Long Island car accident lawyer before you take steps to recover compensation from those who caused the crash. The odds are good—even as high as one in five—that the driver who caused the crash contributed to it by not getting enough sleep.

The attorneys at Siler & Ingber, LLP understand this kind of case, and as part of the investigation into your claim, we’ll work to uncover information that will help prove the liability of the other driver.

Every new client is entitled to a free consultation with a member of our team. Give us a call today at 1-877-718-6079 or fill out the contact form below to schedule your appointment.