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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A new report out from AAA suggests that missing even a little sleep can put you at risk of nodding off behind the wheel. In fact, people who miss just one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash.

AAA director of traffic safety Jake Nelson explained, “If we’ve earned only four to five hours of sleep in a night the odds of getting into a car crash are the same as driving legally drunk due to alcohol.”

New research at the company’s Foundation for Traffic Safety also found that while surveyed motorists believe drowsy driving is unacceptable behavior, nearly one in three admitted that in the last month they had driven when it was hard to keep their eyes open.

The director of the center, Dr. David Yang, said, “You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel.”

Some of the symptoms of drowsy driving include drifting from lanes and not remembering the last few miles driven. But some drivers, more than half, don’t have any symptoms before being involved in a fatigue-related crash.

For longer trips AAA advises drivers to:

  • Travel at times when they’re normally awake
  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Avoid eating heavy foods before setting off
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment

According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 35,000 people died in auto accidents in the U.S. last year.

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