The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that over 35,000 people were killed in road fatalities last year. Many of these accident deaths could have been avoided if the drivers involved had gotten more sleep. The AAA Foundation found while a vast majority of people are aware of the dangers of driving, close to 33 percent admitted to driving while extremely tired.

Over the past decade, researchers and other experts have constantly warned of the dangers of driving under the influence as well as sleep-deprived driving. The results of one recent study reveal how similar drunk drivers and drowsy drivers can be.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report earlier this month showing that drivers who are sleep-deprived are just as dangerous on the roadways as drunk drivers. Some drivers may think that they can function without sleep, but the reality is that the less sleep they get, the more likely they are to get in an accident. In an earlier study, the AAA Foundation found that just over 20 percent of fatal accidents were caused by sleep-deprived drivers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sleep deprivation is common in today’s society, with 35 percent of people getting less than seven hours of sleep per night.

Drivers who get behind the wheel with four to five hours of sleep are as likely to get in an accident as someone with a .12 to .15 blood alcohol level. Those who drive with less than four hours of sleep had an 11.5 percent higher chance of getting in an accident.

With so many lives at stake, it is important that Louisiana drivers consider sleep-deprivation behind the wheel just as dangerous as other forms of negligent driving.

Source: The Washington Post, “Sleep-deprived drivers have plenty in common with drunk drivers,” Ashley Halsey III, Dec. 6, 2016