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You may think you think you can skimp on sleep and still be safe behind the wheel. But a new report reveals just how dangerous that assumption is.
National sleep organizations advise healthy adults to get at least seven hours of shut-eye each night. But coming up short by only an hour or two nearly doubles your risk of a crash, according to the report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
What’s more, trying to get by on four to five hours of sleep quadruples your risk of a wreck. That’s comparable to the risk of crashing for drivers who are legally drunk.
Nationwide, 35 percent of drivers sleep less than seven hours daily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
The report analyzed data involving 7,234 drivers involved in 4,571 crashes. And it found that a driver’s risk of crashing rose steadily with fewer hours of sleep. Drivers trying to stay alert with fewer than four hours of sleep had 11.5 times the crash rate of those who got enough shut-eye—a staggering wake-up call.
It also revealed that sleeping less than your usual amount—however many hours that is—increases your risk of a crash.
Learn more about how sleep deprivation affects driving by reading the full report. And check out this infographic to be sure your bedroom will help you get good-quality rest:
The take-home message
A lack of sleep slows reaction times and causes long lapses in attention. And this report reveals just how risky missing even a little sleep is for drivers. So if you’re short on ZZZs, stay off the road—call a cab, get a ride or take public transportation rather than getting behind the wheel.
And even if you’re well-rested, the AAA Foundation recommends that for long trips you:
- Drive at times when you’re normally awake.
- Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles.
- Travel with an alert passenger, and take turns driving.