Drowsy Driving More Dangerous Than Originally Thought

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The most in-depth drowsy driving research ever conducted in the US found that the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is almost eight times higher than federal estimates, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The organization studied the dashcam video from more than 700 crashes to confirm its results.

"You might have sluggish responses, you might not be able to keep the vehicle in the lane as well as you should", William Horrey with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said. Although it was never proven in court, prosecutors said sleep deprivation was the cause because the driver allegedly admitted to only getting five hours of sleep before the crash.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nine and a half percent of all crashes are caused by drowsy driving.

Federal statistics cite fatigue for about 1 to 2 percent of crashes nationwide, but new numbers from AAA state it's more like 10 percent.

Pearce says everyone in the vehicle fell asleep, including the driver who drifted and slammed into a tree.

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.

AAA sampled thousands of drivers for this new study, recording them in their cars for a few years.

"We could watch drivers as drivers began to exhibit drowsy symptoms as they were driving".

Do not underestimate the power of a quick nap.

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501 (c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. Researchers say it's one of the most underreported problems for traffic safety.

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. "Your body's need for sleep will eventually override your brain's attempts to stay awake, so the only antidote for drowsiness is sleep".

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