This Caused $109 Billion Lost in Auto Crashes, But It’s Not What You Think

sleep and car accidentsWe talk a lot about driving while intoxicated and speeding, but there’s another cause of car accidents that doesn’t get as much attention. And that is sleep…or lack of it.

You know how it is, you’re finally relaxed enough after a tough day at work and then with the kids. You end up in bed late. But you get right up again after maybe 5 or 6 hours of sleep.

That’s how a lot of us in the Mohawk Valley live. We know we should get more sleep, but it’s tough. Thing is, does lack of sleep affect our driving?

We checked in with the Insurance Information Institute and found some facts that “woke” us right up.

The Governors Highway Safety Association reported in 2016 that the estimated annual societal cost, not including property damage, of fatal and injury crashes caused by fatigue was $109 billion!

The Insurance Information Institute (III) states that a 2014 AAA Foundation for Traffic Study found that 37% of drivers report having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point in their lives.

A friend of ours told us of the time his wife fell asleep behind the wheel while driving the Thruway. He was in the passenger side and didn’t notice until they were almost over the guardrails. This had never happened to her before. It was quite a shock. Needless to say, if she feels even the least bit tired, he does the driving.

So what do you know about sleep? We took a look at some interesting information from the AAA Foundation on drowsy driving. There are seven statements people make about sleep and the question is, which are true and which are false.

Go ahead and click onto the PDF to see for yourself, but the two statements we found most interesting are:

“I can tell when I’m about to fall asleep.”
This statement is false. You don’t often think about it, but you can’t decide when to go to sleep or when not to. Just ask any insomniac about “willing yourself” to sleep. You just can’t switch it on.

But the opposite is also true. You can’t force yourself to stay awake. In fact, you can fall asleep and not even know it. Studies have shown that you need to be asleep for 2-4 minutes before you even realize you’ve been asleep. Trouble is, being unconscious for just 4-6 seconds can be disastrous on the road.

“I don’t need much sleep.”
This is also false. People need eight hours of sleep, more or less, every night. (Yes, Thomas Edison famously slept only 4 hours a night, but what’s not so well known is that he napped during the day. He had cots all over his lab and home.)

The problem for many of us is that if you do only get five or six hours of sleep, you build a sleep deficit. That means if you don’t make up the difference, you get even more tired. There are various theories as to why we need sleep: restore our bodies, conserve energy, even brain plasticity.

But the fact that lack of it affects your driving is irrefutable. The Insurance Information Institute refers to that same research foundation above, “A December 2016 study found that drivers who usually sleep for less than 5 hours daily, drivers who have slept for less than 7 hours in the past 24 hours, and drivers who have slept for 1 or more hours less than their usual amount of sleep in the past 24 hours have significantly elevated crash rates.”

We understand how difficult it can be to, “get it all done in a day.” But for many more reasons than your driving, we urge you to think about getting to bed earlier so your feel great the next day. You’ll be healthier…and safer.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 at 9:15pm by nkburns. Filed under: Uncategorized
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