The said study that was authored by Nicholas Moore at the Center of Hospitalo-Universitaire de Bordeaux analyzed data gathered from 679 drivers who were admitted to a hospital in southwestern France for more than a day because of a severe accident between 2007 and 2009.
Moore and his other co-author noted in a letter to the Archives of Internal Medicine that sleepiness poses almost as much risk as alcohol intake.
The researchers used information gathered from driver questionnaires and police reports to determine what factors may have contributed to the vehicle accidents. Under the questionnaires, drivers specified what medications they were going through, their alcohol intake and how sleepy they were before the accident, while hospital files gave information on patients’ blood alcohol levels.
Most of the injured drivers were at their golden age and majority of them were males. More than half of the injured was on a motorcycle while about a third was in a car and 10 percent was on a bicycle during the time of the accident.
Meanwhile, based on police reports, 355 of the drivers were found responsible for the accidents. The researchers concluded from the said reports that being baby boomers driving a car, drinking alcohol and being sleepy are all linked to an increased risk of causing a vehicle accident.
Furthermore, an associate scientist at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center in Detroit, Christopher Drake, also attested that a few hours of sleep loss will produce as much impairment as six bottles of beer. Therefore, Drake explained that if a person had a whole night of sleep loss, it equates to having a 0.19 blood alcohol content level. In US, the lawful blood alcohol level is 0.08 percent, and anything that goes beyond that limit is considered illegally impaired.
At present, there is no law that prohibits sleepy drivers from driving, or legislation to pull sleepy drivers on roadways. Nevertheless, several personal injury lawyers believe that in the long run, provisions covering sleepy drivers will be implemented due to the growing number of vehicle accidents involving sleepy drivers.