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Study shows how much car crash risk rises with lack of sleep

Pennsylvania residents may not be getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and this will negatively affect how they act behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is to blame for an estimated 7 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., including 16 percent of all fatal crashes. Lack of sleep leads to inattention and impaired judgment.

According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, one in three adult drivers sleep less than seven hours each night. A study published by the SLEEP journal has measured the risk of a car crash among those who sleep six, five or four hours: respectively, it is 1.6, 1.9 and 2.9 times higher than if they got the minimum seven hours. Those who sleep less than four hours are 15.1 times more likely to crash.

Researchers additionally found that those who sleep less than four hours run the highest risk for single-vehicle crashes, which result in more injuries and deaths than any other crash. Also, traveling for three hours without a break will put drivers at risk for drowsiness.

The study is one of several on drowsy driving. An earlier 2018 study has shown how severe sleep apnea raises crash risk by 123 percent. A AAA Foundation report found that those who sleep only four hours quadruple their crash risk.

Car crashes caused by drowsy drivers may become the subject of personal injury lawsuits. Victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case and assist with the filing of their claim. A lawyer might negotiate with the defendant's auto insurance company for a settlement covering past and future medical expenses, lost income, vehicle repair costs and other losses. If the company refuses to pay out or comes back with a low settlement offer, victims may opt to litigate.

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