Using sleep aids increases auto collision risk for drivers, study says

Based on a recent study, using sleep aids may increase drivers’ risk of getting into auto accidents, which may result in serious injuries or death.

In order to help them fall asleep, or stay asleep, people in Arizona, and elsewhere, may use sleep aids. These types of hypnotic and sedative medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suppress activities in the central nervous system. This helps to induce and maintain sleep. Although sleeping aids may help people get the rest that their bodies need, a recent study has shown that they may be dangerous for drivers.

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the dosages for sleeping pills be reduced, according to NBC News. This was based on research, which showed that these medications could still be in people's bloodstreams in the morning. Consequently, their ability to drive safely may be impaired.

Examining the link between sleeping aid use and auto accidents

Researchers from the University of Washington conducted a study to better understand the impact of sleeping pill use on motor vehicle crash risk. The study's findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health.

For the study, researchers looked at the health plan data and auto accident records for 409,171 people in Washington. Those included in the study were people who were enrolled in a health plan for at least one continuous year, were licensed to drive in the state and were at least 21-years-old. The researchers estimated the crash risk for drivers in relation to their use of three sedative sleep medications - temazepam, trazodone and zolpidem. To accomplish this, they employed proportional hazards regression.

Using sleeping pills poses risk for drivers, others

The study showed that using sleep aids increases people's risk of getting into a motor vehicle collision. NBC News reported that the study showed people who take tamazepam, or Restoril, have a 27 percent greater risk of being involved in a crash. For those who take the sleep aid, Trazodone, the likelihood of getting into an auto accident is 91 percent higher. Drivers who are taking Zolpidem, or Ambien, are two times more likely to be in a collision than motorists who are not using sleep aids.

According to NBC News, the researchers indicated that the risk estimates associated with using sleeping pills are the same as having a blood alcohol content level of between 0.06 and 0.11. Therefore, based on the study's findings, sleeping pill use may put drivers, their passengers and others in danger. This confirms the FDA's recommendations regarding the dosages for such medications.

Consulting with a lawyer

When drivers who are using sleeping pills cause motor vehicle accidents in Arizona, those involved may suffer serious injuries. As a result, they may require medical treatment, which leads to unexpected expenses. Depending on the circumstances, those responsible for causing such collisions may be held liable for the medical expenses of those who are injured, as well as other damages. Therefore, people who have been injured in sleep aid-related crashes may benefit from seeking legal counsel. An attorney may help them to understand their rights and options.