Researchers estimate that more than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. (Institute of Medicine, 2005) One of the most serious consequences of insufficient sleep is traffic accidents due to drowsy driving. A recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that one out of every six (16.5%) deadly traffic accidents, and one out of eight (12.5%) crashes requiring hospitalization of car drivers or passengers is due to drowsy driving. (AAA, 2010) One analysis estimated the cost of automobile accidents attributed to sleepiness to be between $29.2 to $37.9 billion. (Leger, 1994) Experts suspect that even these disturbingly high figures underestimate the number of accidents or near-miss accidents due to drowsy driving because of drivers being unaware or not admitting they were drowsy at the time of the accident, or police not acquiring that information.
The prevalent hazard of drowsy driving is underlined by the number of drowsy drivers that surveys reveal are still on the road. A recent AAA survey found that two out of every five drivers (41%) admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point, with one in ten drivers (10%) reporting they did so within the past year, and more than one-quarter of drivers (27%) admitting they had driven while they were “so sleepy