Wake-y, wake-y... hit the brake-y! This is the National Sleep Foundation's Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has completed a new survey with data indicating that one in seven drivers between 16 and 24 have admitted to falling asleep while behind the wheel at least once in the last year alone. That's a lot more drowsy driving compared to only 1 in 10 of all drivers who said they nodded off while driving.

While most people surveyed said sleepy drivers are a threat to public safety, at least 30 percent also admit they have recently driven while being tired enough 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," says AAA Foundation President & CEO Peter Kissinger.

"Research shows that fatigue impairs safe driving, with many symptoms causing drivers to behave in ways similar to those who are intoxicated," said AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet in the same press release.

Think you're a better driver than those folks? The list of things that constitute drowsy driving include not noticing traffic signs, driving past your intended street/exit, difficulty keeping your eyes open, yawning frequently, lane drifting and daydreaming.

AAA has a few suggestions to help you stay awake. Get plenty sleep the night before a long trip, avoid traveling whey you usually sleep, take a break every two hours and travel with someone who can take a turn driving.

Read the press release below for more signs of drowsy driving and how to prevent it.
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Young Drivers Admit to Nodding Off Behind the Wheel

16-24 year olds more likely to be involved in drowsy driving crashes finds AAA Foundation study

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - Younger drivers are more likely to drive while drowsy according to new data presented by AAA. 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 as 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.

"Research shows that fatigue impairs safe driving, with many symptoms causing drivers to behave in ways similar to those who are intoxicated," said AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet. "In preparation for the holiday driving season and with many young drivers heading home for Thanksgiving break, AAA is drawing attention to this often overlooked crash risk that is a serious threat to everyone's safety on the road."

The recent 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 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 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.

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. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Young drivers more likely to drive like idiots.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seems simple enough, young people are largely nocturnal today, more than other generations...many young people are chronically sleep deprived from all the demands of work, school, social time. The other reason they're probably driving drowsy is because people under 25 are the most over-medicated group in America, driving while on an SSRI, anti-anxiety med or the like can be worse than driving drunk.
      joe shmoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      yep. kids are more likely to do stupid things. but plenty of older adults drive drowsy too. I have a rule for myself- pull over somewhere and take a nap. If you have to drive, here are some tips AAA won't tell you- turn up some heavy metal music really loud, slap yourself in the face, or have someone slap it for you, yell and scream like you're pissed off, have some monsters or red bulls.
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm so sick of these articles aimed at younger drivers as being problematic. You rarely see any aimed at elderly drivers at all. To me, they pose the biggest risk on the road.
        David Farrell
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        They've done the math. There is a reason young people's insurance costs more. Try not to take it personally.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Been there, done that. I'm thankful for having survived my twenties.
      • 2 Years Ago
      It would be impossible for me to drive drowsy with that hussy in the passenger seat. Come to think of it, that would be called "distracted driving,"
      • 2 Years Ago
      I made this mistake once, and when I was in the age group mentioned. Drifting off the road because I was nodding off scared me so much that I swore to never do it again, and I haven't. I'll pull over and take a nap before I drive tired now.
      • 2 Years Ago
      is that Greg Brady behind the wheel?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not going to lie this just recently happened to me. I was driving home and started daydreaming it seems to happen on a particular road though I get put into a daze driving the road cause its so straight. I am usually tried after having a long day of classes.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I used to work security and we had a brand new Explorer to drive and one night (I worked 12Am-8am) I got to work and the boss says, "You all have to come back at 9 for a defensive driving course!". I was already up for over 24 hours and I knew I would be a mess in the morning, but it was mandatory, so I went home, changed and came back. I had to fight to stay awake during the 2+ hour class, and I lost the fight many times. At the end of the class, only one person had a perfect score. Me! Or as I was referred to by the instructor, "Sleepy". On the way home, I fell asleep twice, the first time I almost hit a bridge support, and even though I had the crap scared out of me from that, I fell asleep again about a half mile down the road! If I had wrecked, I would have sued the company for forcing me to take the stupid course. It would have been ironic as hell if I would have wrecked though..
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