AAA: drowsy driving bigger problem than you think

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To avoid drowsy driving crashes, motorists are urged to try getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep.

Drowsy driving could be responsible for thousands more deaths on USA roads every year than first thought.

"According to the latest in-depth information to be released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the dangers of drowsy driving are more widespread than originally calculated".

In the study, researchers examined video of drivers' faces in the three minutes leading up to a crash.

According to AAA, crashes involving drowsy driving are a bigger threat than many realize.

Those drivers had 905 severe, moderate and minor crashes, AAA said.

After analyzing thousands of dash cam videos similar to these, reserchers determined almost ten percent of crashes can be blamed on drowsy driving.

"Experts have long regarded such statistics, derived from police reports based on post-crash investigations, as vast underestimates of the scope of the problem", the study says.

For the first time, the organization studied the amount of time a driver's eyes are closed in the three minutes leading into a crash.

The AAA study says 9.5 percent of crashes can be blamed on "drowsy drivers".

Federal estimates indicate drowsiness is a factor in only 1 to 2 percent of crashes.

AAA says getting only 4 hours of sleep at night can have an effect similar to driving drunk.

AAA shared video of a drowsy driver behind the wheel, showing his auto cross the center lines on a highway and bump into a vehicle.

"The coffee, the rolling down the windows, all of that stuff doesn't necessarily work", said Haugh.

To read the report from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, visit this link.

Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment. 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. Pulling into a rest stop and taking a quick catnap - at least 20 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes - can help keep you alert.