The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has conducted the most in-depth drowsy driving study and it’s showing that the problem of driving while drowsy is much more serious than thought. The study, which uses footage of everyday drivers, found that the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates show. The challenge in detecting drowsiness after a crash makes it one of the most underreported traffic safety issues. The new research provides an analysis of in-vehicle dashcam footage from more than 700 crashes confirming that the danger of drowsy driving way exceeds official estimates.
As part of the study, researchers looked at 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 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes that result in significant property damage involved drowsiness. Federal estimates indicate drowsiness is a factor in only 1 to 2 percent of crashes.
How Drowsy Driving Affects Us
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily. A recent AAA survey found that nearly 96 percent of drivers said they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and said it was “completely unacceptable” behavior.
But, 29 percent admitted to driving when they were so exhausted that they had a difficult time keeping their eyes open at some point in the past month. Some of the warning signs of drowsiness include having trouble keeping your eyes open, drifting from your lane and not being able to recollect the last few miles driven. Recent studies have shown that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as impaired driving.
Preventing Drowsy Driving
So, how can you prevent drowsy driving and stay awake when you are behind the wheel? Here are a few tips:
- As far as possible, try to travel during times of day when you are normally awake.
- Avoid heavy foods or alcoholic beverages.
- Do not take medications (prescription or over-the-counter) that could cause drowsiness.
- Schedule a break once every two hours or every 100 miles.
- Travel with a passenger who is awake and alert so you can take turns while driving.
- If you are too tired to continue, don’t fight it. Pull over to a safe location or a rest stop and take a quick nap to refresh yourself.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drowsy or negligent driver, contact an experienced California car accident lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.