What AAA calls the most in-depth drowsy driving research ever conducted in the U.S., using footage of everyday drivers, has apparently found that the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is nearly eight times higher than federal estimates indicate.
That's according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Authorities say the difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.
AAA says the new research provides an unprecedented analysis of in-vehicle dashcam video from more than 700 crashes, confirming that the danger of drowsy driving soars above official estimates.
In the study, researchers reportedly examined video of drivers' faces in the three minutes leading up to a crash.
Using a scientific measure linking the percentage of time a person’s eyes are closed to their level of drowsiness, the researchers determined that 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness.
Federal estimates indicate drowsiness is a factor in only one to two percent of crashes.
Health officials say that knowing the warning signs of drowsiness can help drivers avoid dozing off behind the wheel.
The most common symptoms include having trouble keeping your eyes open, drifting from your lane, and not remembering the last few miles you have driven.
Health and safety authorities say the best defense against drowsy driving is to get at least 7 hours of sleep before getting behind the wheel of your car.
Officials say measures like drinking coffee and rolling down the window for a blast of fresh air simply won't work.
They say the body's need for sleep will eventually override the brain's attempts to stay awake.