Sleep deprivation is on the rise amongst the drivers. Adults require seven to nine hours of sleep. Specially, drivers who are continuously on the run need seven hours of sleep to reduce the risk of crashes.
AAA Foundation reports that a sample of 7,234 drivers were involved in 4,571 crashes. A new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that drivers who sleep less than seven hours (i.e., one or two hours lesser) in the 24-hour period are doubly subjected to the risk for 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.
"You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel," said Dr. David Yang, executive director for 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.
Dr.Yang said, "Our 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 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
"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.
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