Sleep Impact: Drowsy Driving Puts You in the Danger Zone

Seventeen percent of fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver
 

Phoenix, Nov. 4, 2013. AAA wants motorists to wake up when it comes to drowsy driving. In honor of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (Nov. 3-10), AAA is releasing alarming statistics that shows that drowsy driving continues to be prevalent.

“Driving drowsy can be like driving with a blood alcohol level of .10,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “It significantly impacts reaction time, vision impairment and overall judgment.”

Findings from the 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index, a survey conducted annually by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, reveal new statistics on drowsy driving:

  • More than one in four motorists (28 percent) reported being so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open while driving in the past month.
     
  • Motorists ages 19-24 were the most likely to report driving dangerously drowsy at 33 percent.
     
  • About 95 percent of drivers believe it is somewhat or completely unacceptable to drive when they are so tired it is difficult to keep their eyes open. More than eight in 10 (83 percent) believe that drowsy drivers pose a threat to their personal safety.

“We tend to get worn out from work and family obligations around the holidays,” Gorman said. “Yet we downplay our fatigue and stay behind the wheel even when we should stop for a rest. As a safety advocate, AAA urges motorists to consider the dangers of pushing our driving to the limits.”

Recognizing the simple signs of fatigue can make the roads safer for everyone. Some warnings signs that may signify drowsiness while driving are:

·       The inability to recall the last few miles traveled

·       Having disconnected or wandering thoughts

·       Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open

·       Feeling as though your head is very heavy

·       Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips

·       Missing traffic signs and signals
 

AAA urges all motorists to stop driving and find a safe place to pull over if experiencing any of the drowsy driving symptoms. As a safety advocate, AAA also would like to offer the following tips to avoid driving drowsy:

  • Get plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) the night before a long trip.
  • Travel at times when you are normally awake, and stay overnight rather than driving straight through. Stop driving if you become sleepy; someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time. 
  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles, even if you aren’t feeling fatigue. 
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving. Vehicles in which the driver was accompanied by a passenger were nearly 50 percent less likely to be involved in a drowsy driving-related crash, according to AAA data.
  • Avoid heavy foods or medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.
  • Do not rely on caffeine to keep you awake. Individuals react to caffeine differently. Caffeinated beverages should never be used as a substitute for sleep.

 

AAA is an advocate for the safety and security of the motoring public. For more information on the club’s advocacy efforts, visit AAA.com/trafficsafety.

 

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.