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One Of 10 Crashes Caused By Drowsy Drivers, Study Finds

Drowsy driving can have fatal consequences.
Drowsy driving can have fatal consequences. Photo Credit: Courtesy of AAA

A recently released research study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has revealed that drowsiness is one of the most prevalent causes that lead to crashes.

“The most in-depth drowsy driving research ever conducted in the U.S. using footage of everyday drivers found that the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates indicate,” according to researchers.

Officials said that the “difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.” The new research provided an in-vehicle dashcam video from more than 700 crashes, showing the dangers of drowsy driving.

“Drowsy driving is a bigger traffic safety issue than federal estimates show,” David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said in a statement. “Drivers who don’t get enough sleep are putting everyone on the road at risk. By conducting an in-depth analysis using video of everyday drivers, we can now better assess if a driver was fatigued in the moments leading up to a crash.”

Of those 700 dashcam video provided to researchers, officials studied the drivers’ faces in the three minutes leading up to the crash. They then linked the percentage of time a person’s eyes are closed to determine their level of drowsiness.

It was determined that 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness. Symptoms of drowsiness include having difficulty keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles of driving.

AAA recommended that to combat drowsiness, drivers should only travel at times of the day when they’d normally be awake and avoid heavy foods or medication. For longer trips, drivers should schedule a break every two hours or travel with a passenger who is alert. Officials also advised that cat naps of approximately a half hour, could go far in refreshing a driver.

“As many Americans struggle to balance their busy schedules, missing a few hours of sleep each day can often seem harmless,” Jake Nelson, director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research for AAA said in a statement. “But missing just two to three hours of sleep can more than quadruple your risk for a crash, which is the equivalent of driving drunk.”

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