Drowsy Driving Dangers

Missing just one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep each day doubles a driver's risk for a crash, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest study. It's an alarming statistic when you consider at least 35 percent of U.S drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With school school underway and extracurriculars in full swing, drivers are busier than ever. AAA encourages Carolinians to get the full recommended amount of sleep each night despite their busy schedules as drowsy driving is now involved in one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year.

In addition to showing that the crash risk doubles when one hour of sleep is missed, the study also revealed that:

  • Five to six hours of sleep each night: 1.9 times greater crash risk
  • Four to five hours of sleep each night: 4.3 times greater crash risk
  • Less than four hours of sleep each night: 11.5 times greater crash risk

These numbers are especially staggering with more school children flooding the streets and sidewalks going to and from school. 

Parents are shuttling their children from one activity to the next, often too busy to realize the signs of fatigue. These include: having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or even not remembering the last few miles driven.

Not knowing you are tired may be the most dangerous aspect of drowsy driving. More than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel.  AAA Carolinas urges drivers to not rely on their bodies to provide the warning signs of fatigue, but rather to always get the recommended sleep. 

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety- Drowsy Driving Video from AAA Public Affairs on Vimeo.


The automobile industry is trying to help combat the problem by equipping vehicles with features to alert a driver when they might be falling asleep at the wheel. Some of the recent new car technologies designed to curb drowsy driving are:

  • Lane-Keep Assist technology alerts drivers when the vehicle deviates from its traffic lane. Depending on the system, it will either vibrate the steering wheel, distribute a beeping noise to alert the driver, or even steer the motorist back into their lane. 
  • Collision Warning System scans the road using a camera or radar and then alerts drivers as they near another vehicle that is stopping significantly faster than they are. It senses that its driver is not intending to stop quickly enough to avoid hitting the car in front of them. Some will beep and a break symbol will light up on the dash while others will even tap the brakes to assist the driver in coming to a stop. 
  • Drowsiness Detection System monitors a vehicles movements and based on the wheel angle, lane deviation, time driven, etc. it will warn the driver to take a break with a sound and a coffee cup symbol lighting up on the dashboard.


As we continue to expand our schedules and strive to fit more into each day, having a car with these advanced technologies can save lives.

AAA Carolinas proudly works to connect Carolinians with the industry’s safest vehicles. Our team of dedicated vehicle experts has built lasting connections with the most reputable brands and understands the consumer’s need to find the safest vehicle for the most affordable price. Through our auto-buying program, drivers can find the best car for them in a comfortable and hassle-free environment. The process is simple – speak with a representative about what fits your needs, and we will do the rest. 

With drowsy driving numbers as high as they are today, it is imperative that drivers make the time to add the recommended sleep to their schedule. With advanced technology available to make roads safer, AAA Carolinas encourages Carolinians to take advantage of it.


For more seasonal traffic safety tips, please subscribe to our AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety e-newsletter. By clicking the button below, you will be registered to receive an email each month with the latest information regarding traffic safety, including travel forecasts and automotive trends. 

Newsletter Sign-up