You May Not Be Drunk, but Here’s Why You’re Driving Like It

The deadly highway problem we have to know about — and that no one wants to admit

It’s a dangerous road we’re driving on — literally.

In a nation considered sleep-deprived, a new study shows that drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep within a 24-hour period nearly double their risk of a crash.

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Missing two or three hours of sleep in a 24-hour period more than quadrupled a person’s risk of a crash.

More than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year is attributed to drowsy driving, according to American Automobile Association. This week, AAA is warning drivers about the dangers of getting less than seven hours of sleep.

“You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a statement. “Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone [who is] driving drunk.”

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News like this may have you reconsidering your own sleep habits. But it’s equally important you understand the vehicles coming at you might have a drowsy driver behind the wheel — 97 percent of drivers told the AAA Foundation they view drowsy driving as a completely unacceptable behavior that is a serious threat to their safety. Yet nearly one in three admit that at least once in the past month, they drove when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

Related: You Need Sleep, Seriously

“Managing a healthy work-life balance can be difficult and far too often we sacrifice our sleep as a result,” said Amy Stracke, managing director of Traffic Safety at AAA — The Auto Club Group. “Failing to maintain a healthy sleep schedule could mean putting yourself or others on the road at risk.”

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