AAA: Drivers who miss sleep increase risk of crashes

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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AAA: Drivers who miss sleep increase risk of crashes

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Drowsy drivers who miss between one to two hours of sleep a night nearly double their risk of ending up in a crash, according to a new study by AAA.

The study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that the more hours of sleep a driver misses from the recommended seven hours, the greater the risk for being involved in a crash.

AAA said statistics prove missing sleep can have deadly consequences, with one in five fatal crashes in the United States blamed on drowsy driving.

“Drivers cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel,” AAA spokesperson Cindy Antrican said in a media release. “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 AAA study, the risk for a crash with a sleep-deprived driver greatly increases the less sleep the driver gets. A driver getting only five to six hours of sleep, when compared to the recommended seven hours, doubles their chance of getting in a crash.

Drivers with four to five hours have 4.3 times the risk of a crash, while drivers with less than four hours have 11.5 times the crash risk, AAA said.

The survey defined symptoms of drowsy driving as having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes, or not remembering the last few miles driven. But, over half of the drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms prior to the crash.

“AAA urges drivers to not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs of fatigue and should instead prioritize getting plenty of sleep in their daily schedules.”

AAA also suggests drivers taking longer trips to travel at times when normally awake, schedule breaks about every 100 miles, avoid heavy foods, take turns driving with an alert passenger, and avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.

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