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Sleep deprivation can lead to high accident rates

In an article on car accidents in Pennsylvania, FindLaw implied that Philadelphia is one of the most dangerous cities to drive in. As residents of southwestern Pennsylvania know, Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas provide another accident hot spot in the state to watch out for.

While motor vehicle accidents most often result from disobeying traffic laws, sometimes the cause of an accident can come from as innocent a reason as lack of sleep. Truck drivers often receive much of the blame for falling asleep at the wheel, but the truth is sleep deprivation affects virtually all drivers at some point in their lives.

Some drivers may even become accustomed to driving sleep-deprived. This may make them shake off the many red flags that indicate they should not get behind the wheel. Forbes reports that when drivers drive drowsy, the odds of causing a crash on six hours of sleep was 1.3 times higher than normal, which rises to an alarming 15.1 after less than four hours of sleep. In fact, drowsy driving accounts for 16% of fatal crashes in America.

Not surprisingly, driving for long hours without taking a break also increases the odds of causing an accident. Forbes recommends taking a break at least every three hours. It is also important to note the difference between being awake and being alert. Many drivers cause accidents because they believe they are fine if they can keep their eyes open.

The likelihood of causing a crash became even worse for people suffering from health conditions resulting in routine sleep deprivation, such as sleep apnea. Severe sleep apnea correlated with a 123% increase in the risk of causing a crash. This remained true even for people who did not report feeling excessively tired. Drivers who routinely miss out on sleep should therefore make an extra effort to remain alert and focused on the road.

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