A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who get insufficient sleep are just as likely to crash a vehicle as a drunken driver. In effect, the study found that drowsy driving is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

Recommended Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages 25 and 64 years should get between seven and eight hours of sleep. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that more than one in three Americans fail to get sufficient sleep on a regular basis. Lack of sufficient sleep, in turn, is linked to weight gain, depression, and highway accidents.

Dangers of Drowsy Driving

A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who get only five to six hours of sleep in a single day are twice as likely to crash as drivers who sleep for seven hours or more. According to the researchers, those who had slept for only four or five hours suffered crashes at four times the average rate – similar to the rates among drunk drivers.

The findings concur with prior studies which noted that about 20 percent of fatal accidents in the United States were attributable to a drowsy driver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, 35,092 people died in traffic accidents in 2015. Therefore, around 7,000 people in 2015 were killed in drowsy driving-related crashes.

Hours of sleep necessary for safe driving

Sleep scientists recommend that adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. If a driver is unable to get more the five hours, it is possible to catch up on the sleep in another part of the day; a two-hour supplementary nap should make driving safe. Experts note that catching up on sleep only works within a 24-hour period. Therefore, people cannot catch up on their sleep during the weekend. Experts recommend that drivers who feel fatigued or sleepy on a long drive pull over and take 20-minute naps before proceeding.

Most drowsy driving-related accidents are caused by people who get insufficient sleep and do not appreciate the danger of that situation. Many drivers who cause such accidents note that they believed they could finish the drive home and do not remember falling asleep. Safety experts note that on the road, it only takes a few seconds lapse of focus to cause major accidents.