AAA: Number of drowsy driving crashes much higher than fed estimates

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released what it says is the most in-depth drowsy driving research study to date. It’s findings, according to researchers, conclude that the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates indicate.

3,593 drivers from six study sites across the U.S. agreed to have their vehicles outfitted with dashcams and other data collection equipment for several months. During that time, approximately 700 accidents were recorded.

In the study, researchers examined video of drivers’ faces in the three minutes leading up to a crash. Using a scientific measure linking the percentage of time a person’s eyes are closed to their level of drowsiness, the researchers determined that 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness.

Federal estimates indicate drowsiness is a factor in only one to two percent of crashes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily. In a recent related AAA Foundation survey, nearly all drivers (96 percent) say they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29 percent admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at some point in the past month.

The most common symptoms that you’re too tired to drive include:

  • Having trouble keeping your eyes open
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Not remembering the last few miles driven

AAA says drivers however shouldn’t rely on their bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.

To read the report from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, visit this link. 

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