2 out of 5 admit to falling asleep at the wheel

    Eye-opening AAA survey also shows drowsy drivers a factor in nearly 17 percent of fatal crashes nationwide.

    According to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 41 percent of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point, with one in 10 saying they’ve done so in the past year.

    More than a quarter of those surveyed admitted they drove despite being so sleepy that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open in the previous month.

    Jim Lardear, Director of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic called it “disturbing data.”

    “Being sleepy is very dangerous when you are behind the wheel of a car,” he said. “Sleepiness decreases awareness, slows reaction time and impairs judgment, just like drugs or alcohol, contributing to the possibility of a crash.”

    A new analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data estimates that approximately one in six deadly crashes (16.5%) involve a driver who is drowsy.

    “We need to change drivers’ attitudes so that not only will they recognize the dangers of driving while drowsy but will stop doing it,” Lardear said.

    To remain alert and avoid drowsiness, AAA Mid-Atlantic suggests:

    * Getting plenty of sleep (at least six hours) the night before a long trip.

    * Scheduling a break every two hours or every 100 miles.

    * Traveling at times when you are normally awake, and staying overnight rather than “driving straight through.”

    * Stop driving if you become sleepy. Someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time.

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