UPDATE: Drowsy Driving Dangers

UPDATE (WRGT)-- A new study shows driving when you're tired can be almost as bad as getting behind the wheel drunk.

One out of three drivers admitted they drove when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

"I think with our lives as busy as they are people try to cut corners. I think one of the places they try to make up time is to cut the time that they sleep and it really puts them at risk as well as everyone else who's sharing the roadway," said Cindy Antrican the public affairs manager for AAA.

We caught up with Rob Brockman at the rest stop on I-75 near the Monroe outlet mall. He says he used to make trips to and from Florida for spring training.

"I remember putting my head out the window sometimes just to make that trip," said Brockman.

One trip almost cost him his life when he fell asleep behind the wheel.

"One of the scariest moments of my life. When I woke up, my Jeep at the time was a Cherokee, flipped like five times and I'm blessed to be here today," said Brockman.

You're supposed to get seven hours of sleep a night but many drivers aren't getting the needed sleep.

If you miss just one or two hours of sleep you're at 1.3 times the risk to crash. Get just 4-5 hours and you've more than quadrupled your chances of an accident. Less than four hours ups your risk to more than 11 times that of a well-rested driver.

Drowsy driving is involved in more than one out of every five deadly car crashes.

Brockman knows it's dangerous but says sometimes you just can't get the sleep.

"I try but I have two young kids and you just never know. You try to survive on caffeine sometimes," said Brockman.

Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven but don't count on your body to warn you you're too tired to drive.


DAYTON -- Drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours daily. And with drowsy driving involved in more than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year, AAA warns drivers that getting less than seven hours of sleep may have deadly consequences.

“Drivers cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel,” said Cindy Antrican, AAA spokesperson. “New research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s report, Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement, reveals that drivers missing 2-3 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period more than quadrupled their risk of a crash compared to drivers getting the recommended seven hours of sleep. This is the same crash risk the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration associates with driving over the legal limit for alcohol.

The AAA Foundation report found that in a 24-hour period, crash risk for sleep-deprived drivers increased steadily when compared to drivers who slept the recommended seven hours or more:

Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash risk

Five to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk

Four to five hours of sleep: 4.3 times the crash risk

Less than four hours of sleep: 11.5 times the crash risk

While 97 percent of drivers told the AAA Foundation they view drowsy driving as a completely unacceptable behavior that is a serious threat to their safety, nearly one in three admit that at least once in the past month they drove when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

“Managing a healthy work-life balance can be difficult and far too often we sacrifice our sleep as a result,” said Jake Nelson, director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research for AAA. “Failing to maintain a healthy sleep schedule could mean putting yourself or others on the road at risk.”

Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel. AAA urges drivers to not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs of fatigue and should instead prioritize getting plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) in their daily schedules. For longer trips, drivers should also:

Travel at times when normally awake

Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles

Avoid heavy foods

Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving

Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment

The AAA Foundation report is based on the analysis of a representative sample of 7,234 drivers involved in 4,571 crashes. All data is from the NHTSA’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey which comprised a representative sample of police-reported crashes that involved at least one vehicle that was towed from the scene and resulted in emergency medical services being dispatched to the scene.

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