A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that drowsy driving may cause 6,400 fatal crashes on U.S. roads each year. The public release of the report coincides with Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Nov. 2 – 9, 2014.

“Healthy sleep is essential to promote optimal alertness behind the wheel and prevent drowsy driving,” said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler. He is president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a spokesperson for the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed a sample of 14,268 crashes from 2009 – 2013. Each crash involved a vehicle that was towed from the scene. Driver drowsiness was assessed by trained investigators.

Results show that 21 percent of deadly crashes involved a drowsy driver. The results suggest that drowsy driving is involved in 328,000 crashes each year. About 109,000 of these crashes result in injuries.

The Healthy Sleep Project urges every driver to keep our roads safe by staying Awake at the Wheel:

  • Make it a daily priority to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. 
  • Refuse to drive when sleep-deprived. 
  • Recognize the signs of drowsiness. 
  • Pull off the road to a safe location when sleepy.

What are some of the common signs of drowsiness? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises all drivers to be aware of these warning signs of drowsy driving:

  • You keep yawning.
  • You are unable to keep your eyes open.
  • You catch yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.
  • You can’t remember driving the last few miles.
  • You end up too close to cars in front of you.
  • You miss road signs or drive past your turn.
  • You drift into another lane of traffic.
  • You drift onto the “rumble strip” or onto the shoulder of the road.