Minor Sleep Loss Linked to Increased Risk of Vehicle Accidents
WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to a report posted online at newsroom.aaa.com, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found in a study that sleep loss in even minor amounts can greatly increase a person’s risk of a vehicle accident. People who lose one or two hours of sleep in one night have a crash risk that is nearly two times higher than someone who slept a full seven hours, the study found.*
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that a large percentage of people on the roads every day have not slept enough. About 35 percent of drivers on average have slept fewer than seven hours, which is the recommended amount of sleep for adults. Drowsy driving is the cause of one out of every five vehicle crashes that occur in the United States annually.
“You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Executive Director. “Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.”
In its sleep deprivation study, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that people who lost between two and three hours of sleep in one day were four times more likely to be involved in an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that people driving under the influence of alcohol also have a four times higher risk of being involved in an accident.
The vast majority of polled drivers reported to AAA that they believed fatigued driving was not acceptable, but almost one-third of them said they had driven on at least one occasion in the past month when they were tired enough that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open.
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