AAA Foundation Study Reveals Dangers of Getting Less Than 7 Hours of Sleep


An AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, published in early-December 2016, warns drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period that they nearly double their risk for a crash.

The report, Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement, reveals that drivers missing 2-3 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period more than quadrupled their risk of a crash compared to drivers getting the recommended seven hours of sleep. This is the same crash risk the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration associates with driving over the legal limit for alcohol.

Written by Brian C. Tefft, Senior Research Associate for the AAA Foundation, the report found that in a 24-hour period, crash risk for sleep-deprived drivers increased steadily when compared to drivers who slept the recommended seven hours or more:

  •     Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash risk
  •     Five to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk
  •     Four to five hours of sleep: 4.3 times the crash risk
  •     Less than four hours of sleep: 11.5 times the crash risk

Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel.

35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours daily according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowsy driving involved in more than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year.

A PDF from this study is available at: