Posts Tagged ‘fatal’

Drowsy Driving: Don’t Be Asleep at the Wheel

February 8th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 8, 2018) – The most in-depth drowsy driving research ever conducted in the U.S. using footage of everyday drivers found that the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates indicate, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues. The new research provides an unprecedented analysis of in-vehicle dashcam video from more than 700 crashes, confirming that the danger of drowsy driving soars above official estimates.

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“Drowsy driving is a bigger traffic safety issue than federal estimates show,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Drivers who don’t get enough sleep are putting everyone on the road at risk. By conducting an in-depth analysis using video of everyday drivers, we can now better assess if a driver was fatigued in the moments leading up to a crash.”

In the study, researchers examined video of drivers’ faces in the three minutes leading up to a crash. Using a scientific measure linking the percentage of time a person’s eyes are closed to their level of drowsiness, the researchers determined that 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness. Federal estimates indicate drowsiness is a factor in only one to two percent of crashes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily. In a recent related AAA Foundation survey, nearly all drivers (96 percent) say they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. However, 29 percent admitted to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at some point in the past month.

“As many Americans struggle to balance their busy schedules, missing a few hours of sleep each day can often seem harmless,” said Jake Nelson, director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research for AAA. “But missing just two to three hours of sleep can more than quadruple your risk for a crash, which is the equivalent of driving drunk.”

Knowing the warning signs of drowsiness can help drivers avoid dozing off behind the wheel. The most common symptoms include:

  • Having trouble keeping your eyes open
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Not remembering the last few miles driven

Drivers however should not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs for drowsiness and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep before hitting the road.

“Don’t be fooled, the only antidote for drowsiness is sleep,” said William Van Tassel, manager of Driver Training for AAA. “Short term tactics like drinking coffee, singing, rolling down the window will not work. Your body’s need for sleep will eventually override your brain’s attempts to stay awake.”

AAA recommends that drivers:

  • Travel at times of the day when they are normally awake
  • Avoid heavy foods
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment

For longer trips, drivers should:

  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
  • Do not underestimate the power of a quick nap. Pulling into a rest stop and taking a quick catnap — at least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes of sleep– can help to keep you alert on the road.

To help drivers determine if their medications may cause drowsiness, AAA and the AAA Foundation developed Roadwise Rx, a free and confidential online tool that generates personalized feedback about how the interactions between prescription, over-the-counter medicines and herbal supplements can affect safety behind the wheel.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s report, Prevalence of Drowsy Driving Crashes: Estimates from a Large-Scale Naturalistic Driving Study, is based on the analysis of in-vehicle video footage of crashes that occurred during the Second Strategic Highway Research Program’s Naturalistic Driving Study (SHRP 2 NDS). The federally funded study recruited 3,593 drivers from six study sites across the U.S. The drivers were monitored continually using in-vehicle video and other data collection equipment while driving their personal vehicles for a period of several months.  

Erin SteppAAA Foundation research finds driver fatigue to be serious, underreported impairment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 3, 2014) – According to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one-in-five (21 percent) fatal crashes involve driver fatigue. These results help confirm what safety experts have long suspected:  the prevalence of drowsy driving is much greater than official statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) currently indicate.  As daylight saving time ends and evening commutes darken, AAA urges drivers to recognize warning signs of driver fatigue and take action to avoid tragedy during this holiday season.

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“This new research further confirms that drowsy driving is a serious traffic safety problem,” warned Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Unfortunately, drivers often underestimate this risk and overestimate their ability to combat drowsiness behind the wheel.”

The report also found that drowsy driving crashes, a mainstay in recent headlines, are not without consequence.  One third of crashes involving a drowsy driver result in injuries and more than 6,000 fatigue-related crashes each year result in at least one fatality.

Previous research from the AAA Foundation revealed that young adult drivers, ages 19-24, are the most likely to admit to driving while drowsy, with 33 percent reporting doing so in the last month.  In contrast, the oldest drivers (ages 75+) and the youngest (ages 16-18) were the least likely to report the same offense.

“Despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans deem it ‘unacceptable’ to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28 percent admit to doing so in the last month,” continued Kissinger. “Like other impairments, driving while drowsy is not without risk.”

AAA urges drivers to understand the warning signs of drowsy driving:

  • The inability to recall the last few miles traveled;
  • Having disconnected or wandering thoughts;
  • Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open;
  • Feeling as though your head is very heavy;
  • Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips;
  • Yawning repeatedly;
  • Accidentally tailgating other vehicles;
  • Missing traffic signs.

When faced with fatigue, AAA urges drivers to find a safe place to pull over if experiencing any of the drowsy driving symptoms. To remain alert and be safer behind the wheel, AAA suggests:

  • Get plenty of sleep (at least seven hours), especially the night before a long drive;
  • Drive at times when you are normally awake;
  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles;
  • Avoid heavy foods;
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving;
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment; and
  • Consult with a sleep specialist or other medical professional if you have trouble getting enough rest or are chronically fatigued.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Drowsy Drivers report is based on the analysis of a representative sample of 14,268 crashes that occurred in years 2009 – 2013 in which at least one vehicle was towed from the scene.

AAA is highlighting the risks of drowsy driving in support of the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®, which runs November 2-9.  For more information about drowsy driving, visit the National Sleep Foundation’s drowsy driving website at www.DrowsyDriving.org.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ginnie PritchettAnimals on the roadways cause hundreds of fatal crashes every year 

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 17, 2013) –Collisions with animals resulted in 2,083 fatal crashes and 2,194 fatalities between 2001 and 2011 nationwide.  Whether a deer, dog, moose or even squirrel, animals on the roadway are unexpected and their actions can be erratic and unpredictable, creating a dangerous situation for motorists. AAA encourages drivers to use caution and remain alert to avoid becoming involved in a collision with wildlife.

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“A driver may encounter any number of scenarios at any given moment behind the wheel,” said Dr. William Van Tassel, manager, AAA Driver Training Programs. “Remaining alert and limiting distractions is a must. Animals are unpredictable, so the sooner you see them in the roadway, the more time you will have to safely react.”

What To Do If An Animal Runs In Front Of Your Vehicle

Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you.  Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. Also, remember some animals move in groups, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area.

Use high beam headlights if there’s no oncoming traffic.  Wildlife may be spotted sooner when using high beams. This will give the driver time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting some animals’ reflective eyes.

If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane.  Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or result in drivers losing control of vehicles.

Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. Most animals, especially deer, tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk.

Slow down and use extra caution when traveling through areas with a high and active wildlife population.  Be aware of increased wildlife movement in some regions during certain times of year such as hunting or mating season.

Drivers should always wear a seat belt and remain awake, alert and sober.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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