While official government statistics suggest drowsy driving contributes to 1 to 2 percent of all motor vehicle crashes, a research brief recently released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates it may be a much bigger problem. According to this report, about 9 percent of all crashes and more than 10 percent of all accidents that result in significant property damage, airbag deployment, and injury involve drowsy drivers.
For this study, the researchers used in-vehicle cameras and other data collection equipment to consistently monitor 3,593 drivers for a period of several months between October 2010 and December 2013 as they drove in their own vehicles. They assessed drowsiness using the PERCLOS measure, which determines the percentage of time a driver’s eyes are closed over a defined measurement interval to predict drowsiness, lapses in attention, and increased variability in lane position of the vehicle.
Overall, drivers were classified as drowsy in 9.5 percent of all crashes, according to researchers, and crashes involving drowsiness occurred more than three times more often in darkness than in daylight. Results of this study differ from official statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).