Drowsy driver - AAA Foundation for Traffic SafetyEnlarge Photo
Younger drivers might be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but it might only be because of the energy drinks they're gulping down to counter chronic fatigue and stay alert behind the wheel.
One year later and not much difference in the behavior of younger drivers ages 19-24 – they’re still the most likely to drive drowsy at 33 percent, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
In all, says the AAA, one in four drivers struggles to stay awake behind the wheel. The oldest drivers (ages 75 and up) and the youngest drivers (ages 16-18) were the least likely to say they’d driven while drowsy in the past month, at 33 percent each.
What is startling about the study is that some 95 percent of respondents said they believe it is “somewhat or completely unacceptable” to drive when they can’t keep their eyes open. Eighty-three percent, or eight in 10, think that drowsy drivers pose a “somewhat or very serious threat” to their personal safety.
The threat to personal safety is actually threefold. Driving while fatigued is dangerous because it slows reaction time, impairs vision, and causes lapses in judgment – similar to driving drunk. “Many drivers [are] 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.
He added that people can’t reliably predict when they’re going to fall asleep, and a very fatigued driver “may fall asleep for several seconds without even realizing it.”
Data from a 2010 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found an estimated 17 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization, and seven percent of all crashes requiring a tow involved drowsy driving.
Is it normal that younger people are sleepier during their daily tasks, or does it say something about our society that they're always running on empty? Let us know what you're thinking in your comments below.
Sleepy driver - AAA Foundation for Traffic SafetyEnlarge Photo
Protect yourself: recognize these simple signs of fatigue
Be more self-aware and take precautions if you experience any of these signs:
Taking decisive action when driver fatigue is evident is the best way to prevent an unfortunate or tragic accident. The AAA recommends the following:
For more information about drowsy driving, see the National Sleep Foundation’s drowsy driving website.