Is “Drowsy Driving” the New Distracted Driving?

Drowsy driving accidentCampaigns warning drivers of the risks of drunk driving have run for decades. In recent years, campaigns to curb distracted driving – particularly the dangers of texting behind the wheel – have gained momentum.

These campaigns have helped keep the roads safer. But studies show that a third factor may need equal attention: drowsy driving.

According to a recent CNN Health report, drowsy driving is a factor in one in ten car accidents, with more drowsy-driving accidents occurring between sunset and sunrise.

The study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety monitored 3,500 drivers from six locations in the United States between October 2010 and December 2013. During this time, study participants were involved in 701 crashes.

By using in-vehicle cameras and other equipment, researchers were able to determine that sleepiness was a factor in 9.5 percent of them, including 10.8 percent of accidents in which injuries or severe vehicle damage occurred.

Researchers found that the “proportion of crashes in which drowsiness was evident was over three times as great during the nighttime hours.” They say that statistics from the U.S. government, which state that sleepiness is involved in only 1-2 percent of accidents, may be vastly understating the problem, partly because the previous data was collected in a less nuanced fashion than AAA’s high-tech approach.

Although drinking and distraction still contribute to a larger number of accidents each year, researchers say that drivers seeking to stay safe on the road should turn their attention to all three Ds: drinking, distraction, and drowsiness.

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