We all know drowsy driving is not good. This new study shows a lack of sleep behind the wheel is involved in a lot more crashes than we thought.
“It indicates that such crashes are eight times higher than federal estimates,” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast Spokesperson.
Federal studies had declared drowsy driving responsible for 1 or 2 percent of all crashes. This new study from the AAA finds almost one out of every ten crashes involves drowsy drivers.
Here’s what they did: They put cameras in the cars of 3,600 people for several months. During that time, 700 of them got in accidents. They looked at the portion of the time the drivers’ eyes were closed in the minutes before a crash, down to one-fifteenth of a second. That percentage was high in 9.5% of all crashes and 10.8% in more severe crashes, indicating those drivers were drowsy.
“Drowsy driving has always been an underrated issue in traffic crashes because it’s always been difficult to identify the cause of such crashes,” Mayko said.
AAA suggests you get at least six hours of sleep the night before a long trip. Drive during hours when you are normally awake, not in the middle of the night. Take a break every couple of hours on long trips, and if you can, have a passenger who also stays awake. You’re not going to fall asleep when you’re in the middle of a conversation.
If you do drive drowsy, “Be aware that your risk of a crash quadruples,” Mayko said.
If you are ever having trouble keeping your eyes open behind the wheel, experts recommend you pull over and take a 20 minute nap.