CINCINNATI, OH (March 9, 2018) - With the arrival of Daylight Saving Time this weekend, AAA is reminding drivers (who will be losing an hour's sleep) to not only adjust their clocks - but also their sleeping habits to avoid drowsy driving.
The difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues. According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates.
“When the clocks change, sleep cycles are interrupted and drivers can be more tired than they realize,” said AAA Spokeswoman, Jenifer Moore. “Losing one hour of sleep takes an adjustment and motorists need to prepare by getting more rest, especially on Sunday."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily. In AAA’s study, nearly all drivers (96 percent) say they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29 percent admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there were 25 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries in crashes on Ohio roads in 2016 as a result of drivers who fell asleep, fainted or felt fatigued.
“As many Americans struggle to balance their busy schedules, missing a few hours of sleep each day can often seem harmless,” added Moore. “But missing just two to three hours of sleep can more than quadruple your risk for a crash, which is the equivalent of driving drunk.”
Knowing the warning signs of drowsiness can help drivers avoid dozing off behind the wheel. The most common symptoms include:
- Having trouble keeping your eyes open
- Drifting from your lane
- Not remembering the last few miles driven
Drivers however should not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.
AAA recommends that drivers:
- Travel at times of the day when they are normally awake
- Avoid heavy foods
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment
For longer trips, drivers should:
- Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
- Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
- Do not underestimate the power of a quick nap. Pulling into a rest stop and taking a quick catnap -- at least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes of sleep-- can help to keep you alert on the road.
Seasonal transitions not only can mean lack of sleep but also allergy issues. AAA wants to warn motorists to be mindful of how medications taken to cure the seasonal flare ups may impair their ability to drive causing drowsiness. To help determine if a driver’s medications may cause drowsiness, AAA and the AAA Foundation developed Roadwise Rx, a free and confidential online tool that generates personalized feedback about how the interactions between prescription, over-the-counter medicines and herbal supplements can affect safety behind the wheel.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.