August 24, 2017
Traffic safety officials regularly warn us of the risks of driving while drunk or distracted. But Americans still need to wake up to the dangers of getting behind the wheel when sleepy.
Did you know that drivers who have had too little sleep are no different than those who have had three or four drinks and are too drunk to drive?
According to the findings of an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report released in 2016, it’s a scary but true fact. Driving while intoxicated can de deadly. However, sleep deprivation can be just as dangerous – often impairing judgment and reducing reaction time as much as drugs and alcohol.
Driving with less than 7 hours of sleep may have fatal consequences. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 35 percent of people get fewer than the needed seven hours of sleep, and 12 percent say they sleep for five hours or less.
Statistically, drivers who miss one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash. The danger more than quadruples for drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep. This is the same crash risk the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration associates with driving over the legal limit for intoxication.
What are the symptoms of drowsy driving? Look out for drifting from lanes and the inability to remember the last few miles driven. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel. Drivers are urged not to rely on their bodies for warning signs of fatigue and, instead, prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep a day.
If you do feel drowsy while driving - pull over immediately and get some rest. Keep yourself and those around you safe by getting enough sleep before you get behind the wheel.
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