WASHINGTON -- The car crash this past Saturday that critically injured TV star Tracy Morgan and killed fellow comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair has focused new attention on the dangers associated with "drowsy driving."
The truck driver who hit Morgan's limo bus, 35-year-old Kevin Roper, had not slept in more than 24 hours, according to a report by the Associated Press, which added that the lack of sleep was included in the criminal complaint filed against Roper.
Just how big of a danger does drowsy driving pose? Researchers have come up with a number of different answers. A French study from 2012 concluded that drowsy driving was "almost as bad as drinking and driving," noting that "drivers who were either drunk or sleepy were at least twice as likely to be responsible for a vehicle accident compared to their well-rested or sober counterparts."
Other studies suggest that the two aren't quite in the same league when it comes to endangering others on the road. Drunk driving accidents, for example, caused 10,228 fatalities in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That same year, drowsy drivers caused 764 fatal crashes, according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Below are some more facts about drowsy driving:
- 100,000: The estimated number of police-reported crashes as a direct result of driver fatigue annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- 71,000: The estimated number of injuries from those accidents.
- 12.5 billion: The estimated number of dollars lost from those accidents.
- 1,550: The estimated number of deaths per year from those accidents, as of about a decade ago. Since then, this number has gradually declined to about half its previous level.
- 737: The number of deaths from drowsy driving accidents in 2012, according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- 2.4: The percentage of driving-related fatalities caused by drowsy driving in 2012.
- 8.9: The percentage of driving-related fatalities in Wyoming caused by drowsy driving in 2012, the highest percentage of any state.
- 71: The percentage of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 who are "likely" to drive while drowsy, according to a 2002 National Sleep Foundation poll.
- 56: The percentage of men likely to drive drowsy according to that poll.
- 45: The percentage of women likely to drive drowsy according to that poll.
- 168 million: The estimated number of people who had driven while sleepy in the past year, according to a 2005 NSF poll.
- 37: The percentage of adults who had "nodded off or fallen asleep at least once since they began driving," according to a 2003 Gallup survey.
- 8: The percentage of drivers who have nodded off or fallen asleep at the wheel in the last six months, according to that same survey.
- 48: The percentage of those drivers who admitted to nodding off or falling asleep and did so between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- 59: The percentage of those drivers who admitted to nodding off or falling asleep who did so while posting speeds of 55 mph or higher.
- Less than 12: The percentage of people who said they would stop driving when they felt tired behind the wheel, according to a 1999 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.
- 8: The percentage of drivers who said they would stop for a nap when feeling tired behind the wheel, according to the same study.
There is more data than just the above. But the numbers tell an unmistakable story: If you don't get sleep, you're more likely to have a fatigue-related crash. Below is a relevant chart from the AAA Foundation study.