Study: More drivers asleep at the wheel than you realize

Driver sleeping inside the car

CLEVELAND- A new study is shedding light on the condition of drivers we share the road with every day.

According to AAA, crashes involving drowsy driving are a bigger threat than many realize.

The AAA Foundation study used in-vehicle dascham video from more than 700 crashes across the country and found  the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates indicate.

“A drowsy driver can oftentimes be just as dangerous as a drunk driver,” said Theresa Podguski, AAA East Central Director of Legislative Affairs. “According to the latest in-depth information to be released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the dangers of drowsy driving are more widespread than originally calculated.”

In this 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% of all crashes and 10.8% of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness.

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.

The most common symptoms of drowsy driving include:

  • Having trouble keeping your eyes open
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Not remembering the last few miles driven
  • Drivers, however, should not 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.

For drivers planning long trips, AAA recommends the following:

  • Travel at times of the day when they are normally awake
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment
  • For longer trips, drivers should: Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles and travel with  an alert passenger and take turns driving.