By Andres Castro
According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year.
Sleep deprivation is a very important and growing public health issue, with lack of sleep linking to vehicle accidents, industrial errors, and medical and other occupational errors.
Ammerman campus’ Liberal Arts Major Victoria Ciresi got into a major car accident Feb. 22 at 6:15 a.m., when she fell asleep at the wheel.
After a night of fun celebrating her friend’s birthday, Ciresi got to her friend’s house in Brentwood at around 3:30 a.m. and fell asleep. At about 5:45 a.m. Ciresi woke up and decided to drive home to her house in Kings Park.
Ciresi was driving on Sunken Meadow Parkway when she fell asleep and hit the guard rail twice.
“I don’t remember much of what happened, I just remember smashing my head on the steering wheel and then the air bags. A lady was there she opened my door and she was talking to me. I got out of my car, I was hysterically crying, and then I just passed out,” Ciresi said.
Being deprived of sleep increases the risk of sleep related accidents. According to a study done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to get in a car accident compared to those sleeping eight hours or more, while people sleeping less than five hours increase their risk four to five times.
“When a person is sleep deprived they can have difficulty concentrating, fatigue, irritability, a slower reaction time, and if without sleep for a prolonged period some people can experience paranoia and hallucinations, Assistant Academic Chair and Associate Professor of Psychology, Nelly Sta. Maria said.
Not only can being deprived of sleep put you in a dangerous situation such as an accident, it can also affect your health. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, people who suffer from insufficient sleep are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and a reduced quality of life and productivity.
“When I don’t sleep I get migraines really easily so if I’m driving I can get in an accident, also I get very cranky and less productive. I just don’t want to do stuff. The quality of my work suffers,” Former SCCC student Corrine Zeidler said.
“I really didn’t know that not getting enough sleep could affect you so negatively,” Business Major Julia Lasala said.
Car accidents that happen as a result of a fatigued driver can result in personal or economic loss. Such as injury, possible jail time, and financial settlements.
“I had really bad burns on my face, a fractured shoulder, a broken tooth, and my car was totaled. I had a concussion that lasted four days so I couldn’t remember anything. I didn’t know who my family or friends were or that I even had a job,” Ciresi said.
“It was scary seeing her like that. She is my best friend and to see what not getting enough sleep can do is crazy,” friend of Ciresi, Maria Primerano said.
“The accident also refrained me from going to school for four weeks. I had to drop out of four classes because my professors said there was no way I would catch up,” Ciresi said.
According to a poll that was taken, 8 out of 11 people said that being deprived of sleep had put them in a dangerous situation, 10 out of 10 people admitted that after knowingly feeling exhausted have gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle, and 5 out of 5 people said that the difference between getting enough sleep rather than little sleep is very significant, in ways that they are happier and have moreenergy to have a productive day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, The National Institutes of Health suggests that school-age children need at least ten hours of sleep daily, teens need nine to ten hours, and adults need seven to eight hours.
“People say the recommended amount of sleep is eight hours, but it is really individual. It really changes between age and life,” Sta. Maria said.
“As you sleep your body repairs itself and if you can’t sleep then you can’t recover. If you are sleepy one hour after you wake up then you are not getting enough sleep,” Sta. Maria said.
“I’ve learned a lot through this experience, it has made me appreciate everything even more because in a second it could be gone. I definitely think no one should drive while they are tired because it can put you in a rough situation. I don’t even text and drive anymore and I’m still hesitant to drive with other cars in heavy traffic. If I could go back I would have slept more,” Ciresi said.