A new study from AAA finds a shocking number of drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel.
According to the study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 41 percent of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel, while 10 percent admit to having fallen asleep in the past year. More than a quarter of those surveyed admitted that, in the previous month, they drove despite being so tired that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open.
“There’s a huge disconnect between what people know to be safe and what they are actually doing,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “One out of every four drivers, or 27 percent of those surveyed, say they drove despite being so tired they had difficulty keeping their eyes open, but 85 percent said that behavior is unacceptable.”
Sleepiness decreases awareness, slows reaction time and impairs judgment just like drugs or alcohol. A new analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data finds that nearly 17 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of serious injury crashes and 7 percent of crashes where a vehicle is towed involve a drowsy driver. Drivers 16-24 were nearly twice as likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash as drivers 40-59.
AAA shared the results of its recent study as part of the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
To remain alert and avoid drowsiness, AAA suggests:
• Getting plenty of sleep (at least six hours) the night before a long trip.
• Scheduling a break every two hours or 100 miles.
• Traveling at times you’re normally awake, and staying overnight when possible.
• Stopping if you become sleepy.
• Drinking a caffeinated beverage.
Symptoms of sleepiness include but are not limited to:
• Trouble keeping your eyes open and focused.
• An inability to keep your head up.
• Daydreaming or experiencing wandering, disconnected thoughts.
• Drifting from your lane or off the road, or tailgating.
More information about driving safely is available at www.aaa.com/saferdriving.