New study shows the risks of driving when sleep deprived.
If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, you’re putting yourself and others at risk when you hit the road. That’s the conclusion from a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which looked at how the likelihood of a driver having a car crash changed based on their sleep patterns.
The AAA study used federal crash data from 2005 to 2007 that covered 7,234 drivers involved in 4,571 crashes. It found that drivers who got six to seven hours of sleep per night had 1.3 times the crash risk of drivers getting at least seven hours. That crash rate rose to 1.9 times the normal level for four to five hours of sleep, 4.3 times for drivers who got 4.3 times the crash risk, and a whopping 11.5 times the standard crash risk for drivers with under four hours of sleep per night.
“Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk,” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director David Yang said in a statement.
How widespread is the issue? The AAA study found that one in three drivers surveyed said that in the prior month, they had driven when they were so tired they were unable to keep their eyes open. Nonetheless, 97 percent of drivers surveyed said drowsy driving was “completely unacceptable.”
Earlier this year, the National Safety Council revealed that U.S. roads were getting more dangerous. Through the first half of 2016, the number of driving fatalities had risen 9 percent year-over-year and 18 percent compared to two years prior. The NSC report blamed much of that increase on the fact that Americans were driving more miles than ever before.