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New Study Indicates Driver Fatigue Plays a Role in One in Five Car Accidents

June 23, 2013

Drivers may not worry about being involved in a motor vehicle accident in Atlanta or the surrounding areas of Georgia because a driver missed their morning trip to get a cup of Java.  However, a new study suggests that the risk of being involved in a collision with a driver whose alertness is adversely affected by lack of sleep may be higher than previously believed by some traffic safety experts.

This new study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) was a naturalistic driving study that involved a hundred vehicles.  The results of the study found that driver fatigue plays a role in twenty percent of all collisions between vehicles, rather than only 2-3 percent which prior studies indicated according to VTTI researchers.  The researchers also discovered that sixteen percent of most near crashes also are related to driver fatigue.  Unlike prior fatigue-based driving studies, this study involved observing driving behavior immediately prior to a collision that evidenced sleepiness, such as micro-sleeps, dropping heads, drooping eyelids and related indicators of fatigue.

The study also revealed that the impact of lack of sleep on driving has a greater impact on younger, less experienced drivers between the ages of eighteen and twenty.  The researchers speculate that young drivers may be adversely impacted by a tendency to stay up during later hours while needing to get up early to attend school or work during the early morning hours.  According to the researchers, young drivers who “burn the candle at both ends” in this fashion are more likely to suffer sleepiness during daytime driving.  While older drivers that adhere to a similar schedule also experience daytime fatigue, the study authors suggest that older drivers have more experience dealing with fatigue behind the wheel.  The authors of the study postulate that this difference in driving experience accounts for the disparity in accident rates between less experienced and older motorists who drive while fatigued.

A spokesman for VTTI’s Center for Vulnerable Road User Safety indicated that the study also led to surprising results because of the frequency with which fatigue is a factor during daytime crashes.  While many people recognize the danger of driving during the late night hours, this study focuses attention on the fact that lack of sleep at night is also creating accident risks for motorists during the day.  In fact, the study revealed that there are substantially more fatigue-related crashes during daytime hours than at night.

One of the key lessons of this study is that getting an adequate amount of sleep before climbing behind the wheel can make you and your family safer.  In generalizing the results of their study, the researchers indicate that they believe motorists face four times the risk of being involved in a collision or near-collisions if they are driving when fatigued.

If you or a loved one is injured or dies in a collision involving a sleepy or fatigued driver, our Georgia auto accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. 

No matter where you are located our auto accident attorneys in Georgia are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). 

You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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