There’s nothing on St. Louis’s streets or interstates that is bigger, heavier or more difficult to maneuver or stop than an 18-wheeler. When that big rig is driven by someone who has had too little sleep, the risk of a truck accident involving injuries or death can be as great as it is with a drunk driver.

That’s according to researchers with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Their new study states that drivers who get less than four hours of sleep are 15 times more likely to get into a wreck than those who get at least eight hours.

Though most truckers are safe drivers, all bets are off when a person doesn’t get eight hours of sleep. According to the AAA Foundation, sleep-deprived drivers make mistakes similar to those made by drivers with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.12 percent – or 1.5 times the legal limit in Missouri.

A AAA researcher reviewed data on more than 6,800 accidents in which the drivers were interviewed by the federal government’s Department of Transportation. The drivers in that group who had less than four hours of sleep were at greatest risk of causing the crashes.

A professor who reviewed the study told Reuters, “‘The sharp increase in risk below four hours stands out.” He said “the odds of being responsible for a crash go up” more than threefold as sleep drops from between four and five hours down to below four.

If you or a family member has been harmed by a fatigued driver, contact a St. Louis personal injury attorney able to obtain for you maximum compensation for all damages.