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Melanie J. VanOverloop
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Preparing for a Holiday Road Trip? Don’t Skip Out On Sleep!

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It’s a well known fact that severely sleep-deprived drivers are at an increased risk of being involved in a crash, but what is less well known is how getting just two hours less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep can effect the safety of a driver. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report this Tuesday that found a detectable increase in crash risk when a driver had slept even just one hour less than the seven hours recommended by sleep experts.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that drivers who had slept for less than four hours had 11½ times the crash risk rate of drivers who had slept seven hours or more; drivers who had four to five hours of sleep had 4.3 times the risk; those who had five to six hours had 1.9 times the risk; and those who had six to seven hours had 1.3 times the risk. In other words, the crash risk of a driver who has slept for only four to five of the past 24 hours is approximately quadruple the risk of a driver who has slept for the expert-recommended minimum of seven hours. A 2012 study found that sleepiness carried almost as much risk as alcohol ingestion while driving.
Holiday driving can already be hectic with more traffic than normal on the road and winter weather causing potentially hazardous conditions. The key to being safe during your holiday road trip is to ensure that, as a driver, you get the appropriate amount of sleep before embarking on your trip. If you are involved in an accident, whether or not the other driver had gotten the appropriate amount of sleep could be a factor in determining who is at fault for the collision.

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