Published: Fri, February 09, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Drowsy driving responsible for nearly 10% of crashes, study shows

Drowsy driving responsible for nearly 10% of crashes, study shows

Overnight, AAA released results of a new study that shows drowsy driving plays a role in almost one in 10 crashes.

According to federal statistics, drowsy driving causes 1 to 2 percent of accidents but AAA mounted dashboard cameras in more than 3,500 vehicles and determined approximately 10 percent of crashes were attributable to sleepiness.

"Drowsy driving is a bigger traffic safety issue than federal estimates show", said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The AAA study says 9.5 percent of crashes can be blamed on "drowsy drivers".

For purposes of the study, motorists were classified as drowsy if the driver's eyes were closed in 12 percent or more of the video frames in the three-minute or one-minute period preceding the crash.

"You hold so many peoples' hearts in your hand every single time you're behind the wheel", Pearce said, visibly emotional.

"A drowsy driver can oftentimes be just as risky as a drunk driver", said Theresa Podguski, AAA East Central Director of Legislative Affairs. "It will remind you when to take a break, not that you should need that, but it's nearly like having a passenger with you that says, 'Hey, I'm helping you watch'". "AAA's previous research also found that skipping two to three hours of sleep can more than quadruple the risk of being in a crash and lead to behavior that closely resembles drunk driving", Conde said.

If getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night sounds more like a luxury, researchers say keep in mind the risk is greatest at night. Two-thirds were not serious enough to trigger police reports, noted Brian Tefft, a senior research associate at the Washington, D.C. -based AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Do not underestimate the power of a quick nap.

Short term tactics like drinking coffee, singing, rolling down the window will not work, AAA says the only antidote for drowsiness is sleep.

To help prevent drowsy driving AAA recommends to travel during times when you're normally awake, avoid eating heavy foods before driving, and to avoid medications that cause drowsiness and other impairments.

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