Drowsiness as One of The Causes of Car Accidents
Among the various causes of car accidents, drowsiness is perhaps one of those people talk the least about. However, along with alcohol and drug abuse, high speed and carelessness, drowsiness is one of the main causes of car accidents. The link between car accidents and lack of sleep has been highlighted by the recent conference “Dangerous connections between obstructive sleep apnea and traffic accidents: from problem to opportunity to promote health and safety”, which was held in Milan on the 11th of February. The conference was organized in collaboration with Automobile Club Milano on the occasion of the Sapio Award for Italian Research, and took place in the Milan seat of Aci (Italian car club).
From the convention has emerged that a meaningful number of Italian people suffer from obstructive apneas: about 1,600,000 adults that snore while sleeping, do not sleep well, and consequently, when they drive, become dangerous for themselves and for other people. But the most alarming data does not concern the number of people who suffer from this syndrome, but the very low percentage of those who are aware of the problem and decide to follow the right therapies: only 10% face the problem. And one of the themes of the convention was the necessity to make people aware of the problem, involving not only those who suffer from this syndrome, but also doctors, associations and experts.
Geronimo La Russa, vice-president of Automobile Club Milano, has pointed out that drowsiness of driving people is the cause of a great number of car accidents: according to La Russa, 20% (including drowsiness as a unique cause and as a concause of accidents). The vice-president of Automobile Club Milano has also grabbed the chance to highlight that the association is always on the foreground when it comes to road safety, dedicating studies and campaigns to the physical or mental condition of drivers and promoting useful initiatives. And also to face the problem of drowsiness while driving, La Russa claims, the association is going to promote initiatives to raise awareness of various categories of drivers.
It is not so easy to precisely quantify the number of accidents that are caused by drowsiness: as highlighted by the local police chief Pietro Garbagnati, indeed, gathering and encoding data, in this sense, might be difficult, and this is why the numbers that the police have at their disposal might be underestimated. Notwithstanding this, according to Francesco Fanfulla of the autonomous service of Sleep Medicine of the Maugeri foundation in Pavia, we cannot deny that there is a connection between drowsiness and car accidents, and the subjects at risk, in this sense, are the people who suffer from obstructive sleep apneas. For this reason it is important to make people aware of the problem in order to solve it and to make the number of road accidents caused by drowsiness decrease.