Warning: Drowsy driving can be as bad as driving drunk


How much sleep did you get last night? If the answer is less than seven hours, you may be at an increased risk of getting into a car accident.

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New study: Drowsy driving increases crash risk 

According to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers who miss between one and two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash.

With many families hitting the road for the holidays, AAA wants you to know that drowsy driving plays a factor in more than one in five fatal crashes in the United States every year.

In some cases, AAA said it can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.

“You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35% of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours daily, which is why this is such a cause for concern.

Notice how the crash risk is quadrupled from missing two to three hours of sleep:

  • Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash risk
  • Five to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk
  • Four to five hours of sleep: 4.3 times the crash risk
  • Less than four hours of sleep: 11.5 times the crash risk

The symptoms of drowsy driving can include difficulty keeping your eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven.

But what’s really concerning is that many of those involved in fatigue-related crashes had no symptoms at all.


How to stay safe 

In addition to getting seven hours of sleep every night, AAA suggests that anyone who plans to take a long road trip follow these safety tips:

  • Travel at times when normally awake
  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Avoid heavy foods
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment

AAA’s study was based on the analysis of 7,234 drivers involved in 4,571 crashes.

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