• Link Between Sleep Apnea and Car Crashes
  • October 9, 2017
  • The effects of driving on insufficient sleep are well-documented and unchallenged by safety experts. Sleep deprivation causes delayed reaction times, impaired decision-making ability, and loss of consciousness. The results are often catastrophic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) drowsy driving claims nearly 1,500 lives a year, and results in more than 71,000 injuries stemming from 100,000 crashes.

    Unfortunately, these statistics show no signs of slowing down. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) maintains that one in 25 adult drivers admit that during the previous month they have fallen asleep while driving. Approximately 168 million Americans representing 60 percent of all drivers self-report driving while drowsy, in a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation.

    An average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night to be fully rested and fully functional the following day. Most Americans fail to achieve this benchmark, however. According to Gallup, only 59 percent of Americans are getting the recommended hours of sleep. The remaining 40 percent of respondents report sleeping less than seven hours, including 14 percent of respondents who indicated receiving sleep of less than five hours.

    Sleep Disorders Often to Blame for Sleep Deprivation

    Although some respondents may situationally find themselves sleep-deprived, such as caring for a newborn or working a night shift, many more of these sleep-deprived drivers could be suffering from a legitimate sleep disorder. Sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway collapses during sleep. As breathing stops and starts, a sufferer of sleep apnea is repeatedly roused from deep sleep. The inability to secure successive hours of deep sleep, where the body restores itself physically, effectively renders a patient sleep-deprived, even if they believe they have enjoyed a full night’s sleep and have no memory of waking.

    Sleep apnea wreaks havoc on those who suffer from the condition, but help is available. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine pushes air into the throat, preventing the upper airway from collapsing and sleep from being disrupted. A CPAP machine, worn as a mask at night, can demonstrably reduce the likelihood that sleep apnea sufferers will become involved in a drowsy driving accident. One Cleveland Clinic study of 2,000 people diagnosed with sleep apnea showed a drastic reduction in instances of drowsy driving amongst patients who routinely and faithfully slept with a CPAP machine.

    New Jersey Drowsy Driving Accident Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP Seek Compensation for Crash Victims
    The problem posed by sleep disorders is widespread. According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 25 million Americans have sleep apnea. Many of these same individuals are drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver, the New Jersey drowsy driving accident lawyers of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP will investigate your claim. Our team has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in compensatory damages on behalf of our clients. Call 732-777-0100 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Red Bank, Edison, or Toms River, New Jersey, where we proudly serve communities throughout the surrounding areas.