In a recent academic article, a study has found that drivers who have four to five hours of sleep the night before have double the risk of crashing, the same risk a driver has when they have a blood alcohol reading of 0.05%.

Furthermore, the risk of having a crash significantly increases with each hour of sleep lost, with some studies suggesting when a driver has between one to four hours of sleep, they may be up to 15 times more likely to have a crash.

This is particularly important for BRAKE as our young teenagers are still learning to drive and their underdeveloped brains are already lacking the ability to process as much information as a fully developed brain without the added risk of fatigue.

What if you could be fined or lose your license for driving tired? Our new study just published in Nature and Science of Sleep has found if you had less than five hours of sleep last night, you are just as likely to have a vehicle crash as if you were over the legal limit for alcohol.

We know about 20% of all vehicle crashes are caused by fatigue. Over the past 20 years, the number of crashes caused by alcohol has decreased significantly.

However, there has been little progress over this same period in decreasing the number of crashes caused by fatigue. We wanted to know – can this be changed?

Madeline Sprajcer and Drew Dawson, The Conversation (April 5, 2023)

The article goes on to discuss that alcohol consumption is a decision, whereas a lot of people cannot decide to get more sleep due to parenting, working or sleep disorders. The article suggests that we must consider introducing a fatigue law, similar to New Jersey’s ‘Maggie’s Law’ legislation that finds drivers to be legally impaired if they are found to have had zero hours of sleep in the previous 24 hours.

The risks of sleep deprivation and what we call ‘sleep debt’ is an important part of the BRAKE curriculum. Students are taught the dangers of driving fatigued and why they must not believe in the common misconceptions that drinking coffee, winding the window down or loud music will reduce fatigue as they simply do not.

You can read the full article here.