While the official figures concerning the number of car accident injuries and fatalities here in the United States every year are truly shocking, this shock value is perhaps evenly matched by the figures concerning the number of pedestrian accident injuries and fatalities.
To illustrate, statistics show that 85,000 people suffer serious personal injuries while another 5,300 are killed in pedestrian accidents every year. As if this wasn't discouraging enough, roughly a third of these pedestrian fatalities are children.
Interestingly, researchers at Children's of Alabama hospital located in Birmingham recently published a study showing that a certain subset of children are at an elevated risk of being struck by a motor vehicles while crossing the street, and that both parents and health professionals alike need to be aware of this risk.
The study revealed that children suffering from untreated excessive daytime sleepiness were two times as likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident. Furthermore, they determined that this finding held true even when these children looked both ways before crossing.
The researchers arrived at these conclusions concerning children with EDS -- a term used to cover such conditions as idiopathic hypersomnia and narcolepsy -- after running a street simulation in a virtually reality lab located at the University of Alabama at Birmingham involving 66 children ranging in age from 8 to 16 (33 with EDS and 33 without the condition).
"This finding extends previous reports documenting the harmful effect of sleep deprivation on transportation safety of adults and adolescents," reads the study. "In particular, this study provides initial evidence to suggest that untreated EDS may be associated with increased injury risk to children in pedestrian settings."
Why then were children with EDS more likely to be hit by a car even if they looked both ways before crossing?
The researchers theorized that the children with EDS were often not really looking when crossing, meaning their sleepy state caused them to simply go through the motions without really processing the danger.
Fortunately, the researchers did provide some solutions to the problem of keeping children with EDS safe from pedestrian accidents.
First, they suggested greater community awareness, such that more local motorists understand and appreciate the danger. Second, they suggested sleep professionals make a more concerted effort to inform both parents and children of this elevated risk.
What are your thoughts on this study?
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by the negligence of another, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced and dedicated attorney.
Source: Alabama.com, "Sleepy kids more likely to be hit by a car, Alabama study finds," Mike Oliver, March 3, 2014