New research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has indicated that driving when too tired to safely operate a vehicle is much more widespread than previously estimated and could be responsible for around 10% of all the road traffic accidents in the US.
In this article, we’ll be looking at how driving when tired makes you more likely to have an accident and what steps you can take to prevent this from happening.
What the Studies Show
In the most in-depth study ever conducted on US drivers, the AAA (American Automobile Association) used dashboard cameras and other equipment to monitor the driving habits of more than 3,500 people, from across the US, for several months.
Of those 3,500 people, more than 700 were involved in road traffic accidents with a lack of sleep determined to be a factor in up to 9.5 percent of those accidents. This is far higher than what the federal government’s estimated impact of driving while tired, which it puts at 1 to 2 percent of all vehicle crashes.
At the same time, another study by the AAA has shown that 29 percent of those questioned admitted to driving, at some point in the past month, when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.
How Dangerous Is Driving Tired?
One of the main reasons that driving tired is the cause of such a high proportion of accidents is that sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol.
In terms of the negative effect being tired can have on your driving abilities, according to the Sleep Foundation, staying awake for 18 hours straight makes you drive like you have a blood-alcohol level of .05, with .08 being the legal limit.
If you’ve been awake for a full 24 hours, you’ll be driving like you have a blood-alcohol level of .10, well over the legal limit.
How to Stay Safe
While the obvious solution to not driving when tired is to not drive when tired, the reality is always less black and white than that.
Sometimes long-distance drives are unavoidable and not everyone can control their sleeping patterns. The key to staying safe is recognizing the signs of your drowsiness impacting the quality of your driving and these include:
- Trouble focusing
- Heavy eyelids
- An inability to remember the last stretch of road that you just drove down
- Yawning constantly
- Bobbing your head
- Drifting from your lane
If you, or your passenger, notice any of these signs, it’s time to stop driving.
The Northwest Driving School and Traffic School provides the Las Vegas community with live driving and traffic classes taught by seasoned instructors. All of our driving instructors have passed background checks, each automobile is DMV safety-approved and every member of the Northwest family is committed to providing excellent drivers ed and behind the wheel instruction.
At Northwest, you can expect to find outstanding classes, both on campus and behind the wheel, that are engaging, fact-filled, entertaining, and geared toward success.
We make no bones about it, we believe that Northwest provides the best driving lessons in Las Vegas, no matter your age or background. We are proud of the fact that 98% of our students pass their test on the first try. Call us at (702) 403-1592 to start your driving adventure with one of our expert instructors.
Master Instructor, Emeritus