One-in-four drivers report struggling to stay awake behind the wheel, AAA says

One-in-four drivers report struggling to stay awake behind the wheel, AAA says

November 5, 2013 Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 4:05 PM CDT

(AAA news release)  More than one in four motorists (28 percent) reported  being so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open while driving in the past month, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

According to an AAA news release:

Motorists ages 19-24 were the most likely to report driving dangerously drowsy at 33 percent, while the oldest drivers (ages 75+) and the youngest (ages 16-18) were the least likely to report having done so in the previous month at 22 percent each.

“Drowsy driving remains a significant threat to the motoring public, with many drivers underestimating the problem of driving while extremely tired, and overestimating their ability to deal with it,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Driving while fatigued is dangerous because it slows reaction time, impairs vision and causes lapses in judgment, similar to driving drunk. We know that people can’t reliably predict when they are going to fall asleep, and a very fatigued driver may fall asleep for several seconds without even realizing it.”

The study found that 95 percent of drivers believe it is somewhat or completely unacceptable to drive when they are so tired it is difficult to keep their eyes open. More than eight in ten (83 percent) believe that drowsy drivers pose a somewhat or very serious threat to their personal safety.

“Many of us are so worn out from our work and family obligations, yet we downplay our fatigue and stay behind the wheel even when we should stop for a rest,” said Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. “We should consider the dangers whenever we attempt to push our driving to the limits. We can protect ourselves and everyone else on the road by recognizing the simple signs of fatigue.”

An estimated 17 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization, and seven percent of all crashes requiring a tow involve a drowsy driver, according to a 2010 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Some warnings signs that may signify drowsiness while driving are:

    The inability to recall the last few miles traveled;

    Having disconnected or wandering thoughts;

    Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open;

    Feeling as though your head is very heavy;

    Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips;

    Yawning repeatedly;

    Accidentally tailgating other vehicles;

    Missing traffic signs.

Read the entire AAA news release by clicking HERE.