Losing Sleep Can Raise Your Crash Risk

Drivers who lose just one to two hours of sleep in a 24-hour period double their crash risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent of drivers in the United States sleep less than the recommended 7 hours each night. With one in five fatal accidents involving drowsy driving each year, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is warning people of the dangers of losing sleep.

High Percent of Fatal Crashes Involve Sleep Deprivation

In a report published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, researchers found that 21 percent of fatal crashes in the United States involved driver drowsiness. In addition, 13 percent of crashes that required hospital admission and 7 percent of all crashes in the country were connected to drowsy drivers.

Sleep a Critical Factor in Crash Risk

These initial statistics involving drowsy drivers and crashes pushed AAA to do a study to determine if there was a relationship between the total number of hours of sleep for a driver and the risk of a car crash. The study found that drivers who slept less than 4 hours had an 11.5 times greater chance of becoming involved in a crash. Those who slept just 4 to 5 hours increased their crash risk by 4.3 percent. Even sleeping 5 to 6 hours was not sufficient, increasing crash risk by 1.9 percent. The study shows that missing just 1 to 2 of the recommended 7 hours of sleep could nearly double a person’s crash risk.

Healthy adults should aim to sleep at least 7 hours every 24-hour period. This will greatly reduce drivers’ crash risk, keeping people safer on the road. Those who cannot get the recommended 7 hours of sleep need to be aware of their increased crash risk to protect themselves and others.

Symptoms of Fatigued Driving

Although 97 percent of people surveyed said that drowsy driving was dangerous, one in three admitted to getting behind the wheel while they were tired enough to have difficulty keeping their eyes open. Other symptoms drowsy drivers may notice include:

  • Drifting lanes
  • Forgetting the last few miles driven
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Trouble concentrating

Alarmingly, more than half of the drivers involved in drowsy driving accidents showed no symptoms at all before falling asleep behind the wheel.

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