Drowsy driving is a much bigger problem than we think, says a new report by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
The Federal government, in the form of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says that drowsiness is responsible for 1.4 percent of all police-reported crashes. The AAA study claims that drowsiness is actually responsible for 10.6-10.8 percent of those crashes severe enough to be reported to the police -– a 700-800 percent increase!
The AAA installed cameras in the cars of 3,600 volunteer drivers. The cameras recorded the drivers’ behavior and demeanor over the course of several months. If the driver’s eyes were hidden due to dark glasses or glare, then the footage was excluded. Then, the researchers analyzed the footage before, during, and after a crash; there were 905 crashes during the course of the study. They performed a PERCLOS measure, which determines “the percentage of time that a person’s eyes are closed over a defined measurement interval.” They classified a driver as “drowsy,” if their eyes were closed in 12 percent or more of the video frames in the three-minute period preceding the crash.
Using their validated measurement technique, the AAA confirmed the much higher drowsiness statistics.