Reprinted from NPR, originally posted December 6, 2016.
Traffic safety officials regularly warn us of the risks of driving while drunk or distracted.
But Americans still need to wake up to the dangers of getting behind the wheel when sleepy, according to a recent study of crash rates.
A report released Tuesday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that drivers who sleep only five or six hours in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to crash as drivers who get seven hours of sleep or more.
And the less sleep the person behind the wheel gets, the higher the crash rate, according to the findings. For instance, drivers in the study who got only four or five hours of shut-eye had four times the crash rate — close to what’s seen among drunken drivers.
“If you have not slept seven or more hours in a given 24-hour period, you really shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car,” says Jake Nelson, director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research for AAA.
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