Drowsy driving a serious problem. Exhaustion is a factor in one out of five fatal crashes in the US. That's on par with distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control. To put the numbers into perspective, drunk driving accounts for one in three deaths. The CDC notes that 35 percent of adults get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night.
"You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel," said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk."
The good news is, the vast majority of drivers surveyed by AAA view drowsy driving as unacceptable. In fact, 97 percent of drivers said sleepiness is a hazard on the road. The bad news is, like most risky behaviors on the road, a lot of drivers do it anyway. One in three admitted to drowsy driving at least once in the past month.
If you find your eyelids dropping, or you suddenly can't remember the last few miles, you're probably too tired to drive. However, your body might not clue you in to your level of exhaustion until it's too late. AAA recommends drivers take a break every 100 miles and suggests staying off the road during your routine sleeping hours. They also say drivers should stay away from heavy foods and medications that cause drowsiness. If you're going on a long trip, bring a friend along and take shifts driving. If you feel tired, the best thing you can do is pull over and find an alternative way to get home or take a nap.