Report: Drowsy Driving Causes 17% Of Crashes

A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety may keep you up at night — and that could be a good thing. According to the report, 41% of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel, and drowsy driving accounts for about 17% of all crashes, and 2% of vehicular fatalities.

Consumer Reports took at look a the eye-opening study:

The study found that 41 percent admit to falling asleep or nodding off at some point during their driving experience, based on a telephone survey of 2,000 U.S. residents. One in 10 said they did so in the past year and 27 percent of those surveyed said they were so tired behind the wheel that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

Drowsy driving was attributed to 730 deaths in 2009–about 2 percent of all vehicular fatalities, but an analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash data reveals that one in six or 16 percent of deadly crashes involve a driver who is sleepy and one in eight result in hospitalization. These statistics are higher than previous estimates and suggest that drowsy driving is a more prevalent factor in crashes, deaths, and injuries.

Tips from Consumer Reports to help avoid drowsy driving include taking breaks, inviting a passenger along, and this handy twofer: “Drinking a good quantity of water helps as it prevents dehydration that can cause drowsiness. It also requires you to pull over regularly and stretch your legs for a bathroom break.”

Wake-up call: AAA study shows too many drivers are asleep at the wheel [Consumer Reports]
Asleep at the Wheel: The Prevalence and Impact of Drowsy Driving (PDF) [AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety]