Young Drivers Pose Greatest Risk for Drowsy Driving, Study Finds


  • Drowsy Driving

    Drowsy Driving

    Young drivers pose the greatest risk for nodding off behind the wheel, a new study finds. | November 09, 2012

Just the Facts:
  • Young drivers are more likely to be involved in drowsy-driving crashes than older drivers, a new AAA Foundation study released on Friday said.
  • AAA calls the finding an "often overlooked crash risk that is a serious threat to everyone's safety on the road."
  • Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

WASHINGTON — Young drivers are more likely to be involved in drowsy-driving crashes than older drivers, a new AAA Foundation study released on Friday said. AAA calls the finding an "often overlooked crash risk that is a serious threat to everyone's safety on the road."

The AAA study found that one in seven licensed drivers ages 16-24 admitted to having nodded off at least once while driving in the past year as compared to one in 10 of all licensed drivers who "confessed" to falling asleep during the same period.

"Research shows that fatigue impairs safe driving, with many symptoms causing drivers to behave in ways similar to those who are intoxicated," said Robert Darbelnet, AAA president and CEO, in a statement.

Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"As tragic as these numbers are, they only tell a portion of the story," said NHTSA. "It is widely recognized that drowsy driving is underreported as a cause of crashes. And this doesn't include incidents caused by driver inattention."

Automakers are beginning to offer crash-avoidance technology that can combat drowsy driving. Mercedes-Benz offers the Attention Assist system at no extra cost for such vehicles as the C-Class and SLS AMG. A Volvo technology package bundles lane departure warning, driver alert control, collision warning with auto brake and other features for about $2,000.

Edmunds says: All the technology in the world doesn't take the place of a good night's sleep for drivers.

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