Yes, we know you’re busy. Work is crazy, and holiday obligations are stacking up. If you’re tempted to find more time in your day by cutting down on sleep, you might want to think again. Get the facts here and share them with your employees.
New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that drivers who miss between one and two sleep hours, out of the recommended seven in a 24-hour period, nearly double their risk for a crash.
That’s especially concerning in view of the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35 percent of U.S. drivers get less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Drowsy driving, AAA says, is involved in more than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year.
Notes Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation, “You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel. Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.”
Drivers who missed 2 to 3 hours of sleep more than quadrupled the risk of a crash. The research also found that over a 24-hour period, the crash risk for sleep-deprived drivers increased steadily, compared to that of drivers who slept 7 or more hours.
Your employees know better. But are they ignoring what they know?
Drivers seem to know the perils of taking the wheel while sleepy. While 97 percent told the AAA Foundation they view drowsy driving as completely unacceptable and a serious threat to their safety, nearly one in three admit to driving at least once in the past month when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.
Signs of drowsy driving include drifting from lanes and not remembering the last few miles driven. Especially scary is the fact that more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel.
AAA urges drivers not to rely on their body to indicate they’re at risk. Instead, make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep. For longer trips, remind drivers to:
- Travel at a time when they’re normally awake;
- Schedule a break every two hours, or every 100 miles;
- Travel with an alert passenger and take turns at the wheel;
- Avoid heavy foods; and
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.