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Kara Hitchens
Senior Specialist, Public and Government Affairs, OH
O: (937) 224-2817
C: (937) 558-8427
khitchens@aaa-alliedgroup.com

Cindy Antrican
Public Affairs Manager, OH
O: (937) 224-2875 ext. (5502875)
C: (937) 238-6667
cantrican@AAA-AlliedGroup.com

March 13, 2021 – The arrival of Daylight Saving Time this weekend means one less hour of sleep and the potential for more sleepy drivers on the road.  AAA is reminding drivers to adjust your clock and your sleeping habits to make sure you’re alert behind the wheel.

According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates. The difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.

“When the clocks change, sleep cycles are interrupted and drivers can be more tired than they realize,” said Kara Hitchens, AAA Senior Specialist. “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%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 at some point in the past month.

According to the Ohio Department Transportation (ODOT), drowsy driving crashes were significantly down in 2020 – likely a result of the pandemic and fewer drivers on the road.  There was nearly a 24% drop compared to 2019.  Total reported crashes are down in 2020 by 17% compared to the year before.

But a closer examination of ODOT statistics in the five years preceding the pandemic shows a rise in drowsy driving crashes. There was a sharp increase from 2018 to 2019–a nearly 12% increase.

Year

# Crashes

% Change from Preceding Year

2015

3018

+9.3

2016

3080

+2%

2017

3106

+.85

2018

2908

-6.37

2019

3255

+11.92

2020

2483

-23.71

 

Montgomery County was in the top five Ohio counties for drowsy driving crashes in 2020, with 108 crashes. Hamilton County was #1 with 178 crashes.

“As many Americans struggle to balance their busy schedules, missing a few hours of sleep each day can often seem harmless,” added Hitchens. “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.

The other issue increasing risk with the time change is darkness. The Monday morning commute, and the morning commute for several weeks to come, will be much darker than what drivers are used to, a serious concern because 76 percent of pedestrian fatalities happen when it’s dark, according to  findings from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released in February 2020.

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 61 million members nationwide and nearly two and a half 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.


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TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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