PERCLOS: The Newest Way to Detect Drowsy Drivers
How many times have you seen a weaving car on the road and wondered, is that driver under the influence? Did you ever consider that they might be sleepy and not drunk? It turns out that drowsy driving is a much bigger problem than the official statistics would lead you to believe.
The U.S. government’s figures have traditionally pegged drowsy driving as responsible for, at most, 2 percent of all crashes. But a new study using the PERCLOS method has determined that the proportion of accidents involving drowsy drivers can be as high as nearly 11 percent, or 1 in 9, of all collisions. That’s a significant and alarming increase that requires further examination.
What Is PERCLOS, and Why Does It Matter?
An eye-opening study published in February, 2018, and managed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, confirmed the surprising results using the research method PERCLOS. PERCLOS, or the percentage of time during a specified period that a driver’s eyes are closed, was measured using in-vehicle recording devices. The resulting videos meant that researchers could examine recordings made prior to the crashes, determining whether a driver’s eyes were open or closed at critical times.
Why is such a study important? If we know the reasons that crashes occur, we can work on ways to prevent them. In 2017, more than 40,000 people were killed in U.S. traffic accidents, according to estimates from the National Safety Council (NSC). That’s the same as if the entire population of Westfield, Indiana, died during 2017.
Imagine a Westfield dying every single year. We need to do better.
The Study’s Methodology
The AAA Foundation’s study was conducted in six U.S. locations from October, 2010, to December, 2013. More than 3,500 drivers consented to in-vehicle cameras and related devices that recorded their behaviors for a number of months. When the videos were studied, researchers found that drowsiness played a part in 10.6 to 10.8 percent of crashes that involved considerable property damage, airbag deployment, or injuries. Of the 701 accidents studied, driver drowsiness was implicated in 8.8 and 9.5 percent of all collisions, regardless of severity.
After nightfall, drowsiness is an even bigger issue. Only 5.3 percent of daytime crashes resulted from sleepiness, but once it grew dark, 17.7 percent of accidents were related to driver drowsiness. That was true even though the actual number of accidents after dark was significantly less than half of the daytime number (181 versus 489). The incidence of PERCLOS one minute before a crash was considered by researchers to be the prime causative factor.
Drowsy Equals Drunk?
No test exists for the drowsy driver; many of those in accidents may not want to admit fault by acknowledging their sleepiness. Sometimes a driver may not even realize they had been drowsy before the crash; they might have slept for an extremely brief period of time known as a microsleep, one cause of drowsy driving accidents.
But lack of sleep can be as dangerous as drinking and driving. Impairment behind the wheel equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 occurs once it’s been 17 to 19 hours since you slept. After 20 to 25 hours have gone by, your impairment equals a BAC of 0.1, exceeding the legal BAC of 0.08 in Indiana.
Don’t Drive While Sleepy
According to the CDC, around 35 percent of us in the United States are sleeping less than 7 hours a night. This fact is a problem because it’s at least an hour’s less sleep than we should be getting to ward off dangerous drowsiness. In the same CDC study, approximately 1 in 21 drivers (4.7 percent) reported falling asleep while driving at least once during the previous month alone.
The only way to fix drowsiness over the long term is to sleep, according to William J. Horrey, the Traffic Research Group leader at the AAA Foundation. If a driver cannot get enough sleep, eventually the problem will make itself known, perhaps by causing an accident that severely injures or kills another person.
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When you are considering hiring an Indiana car accident lawyer, you should seek an attorney who will provide competent and compassionate representation with a “client first” approach. That’s exactly what you’ll get with proven advocate attorneys Mike Stephenson and Brady Rife at McNeely Stephenson. Mike and Brady, as well as the entire legal team, are committed to doing whatever is necessary to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
If you think you might have a case, keep in mind that in Indiana there is a statute of limitations – or a deadline – for filing personal injury claims, so it is unwise to delay. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. Don’t lose the opportunity to obtain the money you need to put your life back on track and to make your family’s future financially secure. Call McNeely Stephenson today at 1-317-825-5200, or contact us online for immediate help.