AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Those who hit the road with lack of sleep have a lot in common with drunk drivers, according to a new AAA study.
Travel officials are hoping a startling finding will have drivers thinking again before driving while sleep deprived. The AAA Foundation for Traffic safety found a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to driving drunk, with a blood alcohol content at or above the legal limit.
The study also found people who miss between 1 and 2 hours of the recommended 7 double their likelihood of being in a crash.
"These numbers are scary because a lot of people don't think about drowsy driving as being dangerous," says AAA Texas Spokesman Doug Shupe. "But it is just as dangerous as distracted driving and drunk driving."
Doctors say a person cannot miss sleep and expect to function safely behind the wheel. Though a lot of people know when they are getting fatigued, many do not experience symptoms before falling asleep at the wheel.
"That's why we are just reminding people don't rely on signs from your body to let you know that you're fatigued behind the wheel," says Shupe. "Prioritize sleep and get at least seven hours per night."
There are a few tips aside from getting more sleep to keep yourself and others safe.
"Schedule a break every 100 miles or every two hours. You want to make sure that you're driving during a time where you'd normally be awake. So rather than get up at 4 in the morning when you'd normally be sleeping, it's better and safer to wait until you would normally be awake to travel."
AAA asks that you also avoid medications and larger meals before driving.