Drivers can barely keep their eyes open, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index. More than a third of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives, and more than one in ten has fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past year.
A Foundation study completed in Novembr 2014 found the impact of having drowsy drivers on the road is considerable. Drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21% of fatal crashes, up from 16.5% from the previous 2010 study, as most drivers drift out of their lanes or off the road. Drivers themselves are often crash victims who die in single-car crashes.
In December of 2016, the Foundation released a new report about crash risk and lack of sleep. Crash risk rises dramatically with only one to two hours of sleep less than the recommended average of seven hours of sleep per night.
Drivers have a near-universal understanding that driving when you’re too tired to keep your eyes open is risky. Almost every driver surveyed in our Traffic Safety Culture Index surveys – 96% -- reported that they find driving while extremely drowsy “unacceptable.”
As with so many risky driving behaviors, too many people are inclined to apply their knowledge of drowsy-driving risks to others, but not themselves. Through our educational materials and outreach efforts, we hope to offer drivers strategies for managing the risks of drowsy driving and changing their own behaviors.
Key Facts: Drowsy driving
- 37% of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives; 11% report having fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past year
- Drowsiness was involved in one in five fatal crashes
- An estimated 328,000 crashes each year, including 109,000 injury crashes and 6,400 fatal crashes, involve a drowsy driver.
- Men have twice as many drowsy driving crashes as women
- More than half of drowsy driving crashes involve drivers drifting out of their lanes or off the road
- After getting only 5 to 6 hours of sleep, crash risk increased by 1.9 times compared to getting normal sleep of 7 hours.