Drowsy Driving Statistics: New AAA Foundation Study

This fall, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a new study about the prevalence of self-reported drowsy driving in the United States. Using nationally-representative data from their Traffic Safety Culture Index, the survey revealed the following drowsy driving statistics:

  1. Nearly a third of all drivers (31.5%) reported driving when they were so sleepy that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open in the last 30 days.
  2. More than two in five drivers (43.2%) admitted to having fallen asleep or nodded off while driving at least once in their life.
  3. Drivers ages 19-24 were the most likely to report having driven while struggling to keep their eyes open at least once the last 30 days (39.6%), while…
  4. Drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to report having done so fairly often or regularly (5.3%).
  5. Men were much more likely than women to report having ever fallen asleep while driving (51.1% vs. 35.5%) and to report having done so within the past year (11.9% vs. 8.2%).
  6. Also, drivers who reported sleeping less than 6 hours per day at least once a week in a typical week were more likely to report having fallen asleep while driving in the past year than those drivers who reported sleeping at least 6 hours every day.

While official government statistics are widely known to underestimate the scope of the problem, previous AAA Foundation research has found that drowsy driving is a factor in nearly one of every five fatal crashes. Given the prevalence, a national effort is needed to educate the public about the dangers of drowsy driving, warning signs, and ways to reduce risk, and that effort should start with driving instructors.

AAA recommends that drivers:  

  • Get at least 6 hours of sleep before a long drive
  • Travel during normal waking hours
  • Schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles
  • Stop driving if you become sleepy

For more information on this study and the AAA Foundation’s other traffic safety research and materials, please visit AAAFoundation.org.