Driving Sleepy Incredibly Dangerous, New AAA Report Finds

Start skipping hours of sleep and your chances of a crash go up dramatically.

byEric Goeres| PUBLISHED Dec 7, 2016 8:15 PM

Hello, I’m Eric Goeres and this is Drive Wire.

A new study by the American Automobile Association on the effects of driving sleepy was released yesterday. And the effects are dramatic.

7 hours of sleep is recommended, the report states. Less than that, and the likelihood of a crash rises substantially. Between 5 and 6 hours sleep, your chances of a crash double. Between 4 and 5 hours, the rate quadruples. That’s as dangerous as driving just barely legally drunk.

And less than five hours sleep? 11.3 times the normal rate of a crash.

The problem is widespread, with 35% of the drivers on the road at any given time driving with less than 7 hours sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a previous AAA report reported that more than one fifth of fatal car crashes involved fatigue. Keep that in mind as you keep an eye on the cars around you.

97% of drivers polled said driving tired was unacceptable, yet 1 in 3 openly admitted they had done it at least once in the past month. And half of the sleepy drivers who did crash reported no symptoms before falling asleep at the wheel.

The AAA recommends that you travel at times you’re normally awake, get off the road for a break every two hours, avoid heavy foods, travel with an alert passenger, take turns driving and finally, avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment. Like Valium, for instance, which is ever so popular for the holiday family visits.

So do everyone a favor and get your seven hours before packing up the wife and kids and hitting the road this holiday season. 

I’m Eric Goeres and this is Drive Wire for December 7, a day that will live in infamy, 2017. Be sure to check out the drive.com for the big stories that move you.