New AAA study shows young drivers more likely to nod off behind the wheel
Denver, November 8 - Younger drivers drive while drowsy at a higher rate than the general population according to new data presented by AAA Colorado. Based on a recent survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one in seven licensed drivers ages 16-24 admitted to having nodded off at least once while driving in the past year as compared to one in ten of all licensed drivers who confessed to falling asleep during the same period.
These new findings echo data from a 2010 AAA Foundation study of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash data that estimates that young drivers age 16-24 were more likely, by some 78 percent, to be drowsy at the time of the crash than drivers age 40-59. This earlier analysis also revealed that one in six deadly crashes involve a drowsy driver, making it one of the leading contributors to traffic crashes. Fatigue impairs safe driving, with many symptoms causing drivers to behave in ways similar to those who are intoxicated.
The recent AAA Foundation analysis also found that while eight out of ten people view drowsy drivers as a serious threat to their own personal safety, many admit to driving while extremely drowsy themselves. In fact, 30 percent of licensed drivers reported having driven in the past 30 days when they were so tired that they struggled to keep their eyes open.
“Unfortunately, most drivers underestimate the risks associated with drowsy driving and overestimate their ability to deal with it—that’s a dangerous combination,” said AAA Foundation President & CEO Peter Kissinger.
Driving while sleepy or fatigued can significantly impact driving ability, causing slower reaction time, vision impairment and lapses in judgment. While there is no guarantee that drivers will recognize when they are becoming tired behind the wheel, signs of drowsy driving can include:
- Trouble remembering the last miles driven or missing exits and traffic signs
- Difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused
- Yawning frequently or rubbing your eyes repeatedly
- Drifting from your lane or off the road
- Daydreaming or having wandering, disconnected thoughts
AAA Colorado urges all motorists to stop driving and find a safe place to pull over if experiencing any of the drowsy driving symptoms. To remain alert and be safer behind the wheel, AAA suggests:
- Get plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) the night before a long trip
- Avoid travelling at times you would normally be sleeping
- Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
- Avoid heavy foods
- Travel with a companion and take turns driving
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment
AAA Colorado is also highlighting the risks of drowsy driving in support of the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week® which runs November 12-18. This annual campaign provides public education about the under-reported risks of driving while drowsy and countermeasures to improve safety on the road. For more information about drowsy driving, visit the National Sleep Foundation’s drowsy driving website at www.DrowsyDriving.org.
Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is an independent, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org or www.facebook.com/AAAFTS for more information on how you can join our cause. AAA Colorado supports the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety by contributing a small portion of all member dues.
AAA Colorado has more than 550,000 members and is an advocate for safety and security for all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services, as well as member exclusive savings.