Stay Awake: AAA Study Shows 41 Percent of Drivers Admit to Sleeping at the Wheel

Automobile Staff
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While some cars may put enthusiasts to sleep, a new study by AAA found that 41 percent of drivers admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel of a vehicle at some point.

The release of the study findings coincides with Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, which starts today. AAA claims that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that 16.5 percent of deadly crashes involve a drowsy driver.

"Many of us tend to underestimate the negative effects associated with fatigue and sleep deprivation and, conversely, overestimate our abilities to overcome them while driving," said Kathleen Marvaso, vice president, AAA Public Affairs. "Unfortunately, too many drivers have adopted the 'I'm tired, but I can make it' mentality, often to their own peril or to the peril of others."

Surprisingly, only 85 percent of those surveyed said it was "completely unacceptable" for people to drive if they have trouble keeping their eyes open.

Luxury automakers offer various technologies and warning systems to keep drivers of vehicles so equipped alert. On the E-Class sedan, for example, Mercedes-Benz offers Attention Assist, which provides audible and visual warnings if signs of drowsiness are detected.

AAA's study was conducted over the phone with 2000 U.S. residents 16 years old or older from May 11 to June 7 of this year.

To stay alert and avoid drowsiness for a long drive, AAA suggests the following:

* Getting plenty of sleep (at least six hours) the night before a long trip

* Scheduling a break every two hours or every 100 miles

* Traveling at times when you are normally awake, and staying overnight rather than driving straight through

* Stop driving if you become sleepy; someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time.

Source: AAA

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