Some people in Georgia head to bed early, while others pride themselves on being “night owls.” However, experts have long recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly. This is important not just for good health but for safety as well. A study published in the scientific journal, Sleep, has revealed that motorists who have gotten less than seven hours of sleep in the past 24 hours are at an increased risk for causing a motor vehicle accident. Those at the greatest risk for causing a car accident are those who got less than four hours of sleep.

The study analyzed data from a previous U.S. Department of Transportation study investigating 5,470 accidents. Researchers found that respondents who had less than four hours of sleep had approximately 15 times the odds of causing an auto accident, when compared to motorists who reported having seven to nine hours of sleep. This is comparable to the crash risk of motorists whose blood-alcohol concentration is approximately 1.5 times the legal limit.

This study is important, as according to government surveys one-fifth of adult respondents get less than seven hours of sleep on any given night. Moreover, one-third of respondents reported that they regularly slept for less than seven hours nightly. This is significant, because of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in the nation, 16 percent involve a drowsy driver.

As this shows, getting a good night’s sleep is important not just for your own personal health and productivity, but for the safety of all those around you. Drowsy driving is a problem — in fact, just because one is awake, doesn’t mean they are alert enough to be able to anticipate changes in traffic conditions and react to them appropriately. This could lead to devastating car crashes. If a person is involved in an accident caused by a fatigued driver may want to determine if they have legal options for pursuing the compensation they may need to cover their damages following the crash.