The automobile crash rate goes up significantly with even a sleep deficit of just 2 hours, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. So if you get 5 to 7 hours of sleep, you are twice as likely to have a crash, said Robert Sinclair Jr. of AAA Northeast.
Drowsy driving is now estimated to be involved in one in five fatal crashes each year. If you get less than 4 hours of sleep, it is akin to driving drunk, Sinclair said.
"Symptoms of drowsy driving can include, drifting from lanes, not remembering the last few miles driven and having trouble keeping eyes open," AAA said. "But, more than half the drivers involved in fatigued-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel. AAA urges drivers not to rely on their bodies to provide warning signs of fatigue and should get at least seven hours sleep per night."
Compared to drivers who had slept for at least 7 hours in the past 24 hours, drivers who reported they had
-Drivers who reported that they usually sleep for 4-5 hours per day had 5.4 times the crash rate of drivers who
usually sleep for 7 hours or more daily
-Drivers who slept for less than 7 hours in the past 24 hours
-Drivers who slept for 1 or more hours less than they usually sleep (independent of how much they usually
Compared to drivers who reported that they had slept at least their usual amount in the past 24 hours, drivers
who reported they had slept:
-Less than 4 hours had 11.5 times the crash rate
-4-5 hours had 4.3 times the crash rate
-5-6 hours had 1.9 times the crash rate
-6-7 hours had 1.3 times the crash rate
A National Sleep Foundation consensus working group concluded that individuals who have slept 2 hours
or less within a 24-hour period are not fit to operate a vehicle; the results of this current study support that
recommendation, and further suggest that individuals who have slept for less than 4 or 5 hours in the past 24
hours are likely to be substantially impaired