Get Some Shut-Eye: Study Links Drowsy Driving to More Fatal Crashes

New study analyzes the link between drowsy driving and motor vehicle crashes

Drivers hitting the road on a poor night's sleep should consider getting more shut-eye, as a new study suggests that one in five fatal motor vehicle crashes in the US involve a drowsy driver.

The study released this month, sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, analyzed data from a sample of 14,268 crashes across the country between 2009 and 2013.

Based on that sample, the report estimated that as many as 13 percent of all crashes resulting in someone being hospitalized and 21 percent of crashes resulting in death involved a drowsy driver -- up from 17 percent between 1999 and 2008.

Being "drowsy" was defined as either feeling sleepy and fatigued, or falling asleep while driving.

The new report updates an earlier AAA Foundation study that contradicted US Department of Transportation statistics. That study suggested drowsy driving only causes about 1 to 3 percent of crashes a year, according to the report.

"Results of in-depth studies suggest that the true prevalence is likely much higher," the report stated.

The prevailing opinion from transportation experts was that drowsy driving was much more of a problem than what was reported, according to Brian Tefft, senior research associate at the AAA Foundation.

Tefft suggest some tips for drivers to prevent drowsy driving:

  • Make sure you get good sleep before taking any long driving trips.
  • Check for medications that may cause drowsiness.
  • If you find yourself feeling drowsy while driving, do not hesitate to safely pull over to an area where you can rest.
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