New mothers have a lot to worry about in order to ensure that their babies grow up healthy and strong. Unfortunately, a recent study from QUT's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety adds another cause for concern to the list of issues that new parents face. The QUT study revealed that mothers face a significant risk of driving while drowsy, even several years after their babies have been born.
Our Galveston auto accident lawyers know that drowsy driving has been found to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. A driver who is falling asleep behind the wheel endangers herself, as well as passengers and other drivers. Unfortunately, this means that new mothers who get behind the wheel when they are tired may be putting their babies in serious jeopardy.
Drowsy Driving Accident Risk a Major Concern
The recent QUT investigation was a longitudinal study where new mothers were assessed when their babies were six weeks old; twelve weeks old; 18 weeks old and 24 weeks old. While researchers expected that the mothers of newborns would be tired and suffering from sleep deprivation since this goes hand-in-hand with being a new parent, the research also showed something surprising. It showed that mothers at all stages were impacted by sleep disruptions, even once their babies were 24 weeks old.
The impact of missing out on sleep is cumulative, unfortunately, and the mothers in the study were definitely feeling the effects. Mothers with babies at all stages of development indicated that their postpartum sleepiness caused them to make simple mistakes when they were driving. The mothers also indicated that their fatigue caused them to have difficulty concentrating while they were behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, these challenges were not isolated incidents. According to the study, mothers on average indicated that their sleep issues caused them to have challenges getting through daily tasks at least several days per week. This is troubling news since a drowsy mother who makes driving mistakes several times per week is a menace on the roads. Even if these mothers are able to avoid accidents on some of those trips, continually driving when drowsy is likely to lead to a car accident at some point.
The fact that the sleep issues persisted until a baby was at least 24 weeks old is also alarming. Mothers of newborns typically don't drive a lot since they are home and caring for babies who rarely leave the house when they are very young. Once a child has grown older, however, a mother may return to work or may routinely take the child out of the house to errands and activities. This means that mothers of older babies are likely to drive more, which means that they are also likely to drive when drowsy more often.
Parents need to be aware of the risk factors of drowsy driving and it is essential that mothers have the support they need to get enough rest before driving themselves or their children anywhere. QUT Researchers will be conducting further investigation and a larger scale study to obtain more information on this important issue, but parents need to make behavioral adjustments now to prevent drowsy driving accidents.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact Hagood & Neumann at (800) 632-9404. Offices in Houston and Galveston.