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Fatigue is the cause of more road accidents than alcohol and drug use combined

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Sleep deprivation causes more road accidents than alcohol and drug use combined, according to a new federal study released this week.

The Bedtime Reading inquiry has found a staggering 20 to 30 percent of car accidents in Australia involve a driver who is sleep deprived, and one in five drivers admits to dozing off while behind the wheel.

Driving after being awake for longer than 17 hours has been likened by the inquiry to having a blood alcohol reading of 0.05.

Sleep expert Eline Winnel told 3AW’s Nick McCallum she is not surprised by the findings.

“If you look at how much sleep we’re getting these days, we’re getting two hours sleep less at night on average than we did 150 years ago,” she said.

“People don’t understand just how much a lack of sleep impacts us.”

The inquiry revealed shift workers are particularly likely to be sleep deprived.

“Not only are people getting less sleep today, they’re getting less quality sleep, which has a big impact,” Ms Winnel said.

Additionally, many shift workers are employed in roles which are critical to safety, such as healthcare, road transport and mining.

The inquiry also found sleep deprivation at work is as bad as being drunk in the workplace.

Loss of productivity resulting from a lack of sleep is reportedly costing the national economy $26.2 billion a year.

Press PLAY below to hear Elina Winnel explain more about how sleep deprivation affects us.

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