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Sleepy Drivers Are More Likely To Crash

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Getting behind the wheel when sleepy has long been known to be deadly. A new report adds weight to that, finding that drivers who get less than seven or more hours of sleep in a 24-hour period steadily increase their risk of crashing as the number of hours of sleep goes down.

Drivers who miss one or two hours of sleep double their chances of getting into serious accidents, while drivers who miss two to three hours quadruple their risk. Drivers who sleep for less than four hours increase their risk by 11.5 times, Forbes reports.

The report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit organization, highlights the need for drivers to avoid getting behind the wheel when sleepy. David Yang, executive director for the foundation, 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.” He added,

You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel.

This is the first study to quantify the relationship between certain measures of lost sleep and the crash risk among drivers, the researchers said. Titled, “Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement,” the report states that around 35% of American drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowsy driving causes more than one in five fatal crashes in the USA annually.

This new research is based on an analysis of government data of 7,234 drivers involved in 4,571 vehicular accidents. Among the respondents, 97% said that driving while sleepy is unacceptable and poses a serious safety threat, but at least one in three admitted to having driven once in the past month when they could not keep their eyes open.

While drowsy driving symptoms include difficulty keeping eyes open, drifting lanes, or forgetting the last few miles, over half of drivers in crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep at the wheel. The researchers recommend that drivers not rely on symptoms, but get enough sleep instead.

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