I fell asleep behind the wheel nearly three years ago.
I didn't wake up until I banged my face against the steering wheel. I had been driving at 60 mph when my car slammed into the one in front of mine as it was stopped in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic.
Thankfully, I only sustained a slightly crooked nose and a few scars, and the person I hit was not hurt. Unfortunately, my first brand new car (which I had only had for four months) was totaled -- but that's minor when you consider what could have happened.
AAA says 37% of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives, and 11% report having fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past year. A new study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, titled "Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Drowsy Drivers, United States, 2009–2013," highlights the serious consequences of drowsy driving.
The study looked at data from 25,528 drivers involved in 14,268 crashes from 2009-2013 in which a vehicle was towed from the scene. Of all crashes, 6% involved a drowsy driver, and the percentage grows as the accidents get more serious. (Click chart on right to enlarge.)
The study found that 7% of crashes that resulted in any injury and 13% of those that resulted in severe injury involved drowsy drivers.
Most striking, the study found that 21% of all fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver. That statistic has increased from 16.5% of all fatal crashes from 1999-2008, as reported in a previous AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety drowsy driving study released in 2010.
According to AAA, most drivers drift out of their lanes or off the road, and drivers themselves are often crash victims who die in single-car crashes.