It's as dumb to drive sleepy as it is to drive drunk, AAA study says

The crash risk for sleep deprived drivers is similar to drunk driving.
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It's pretty obvious that driving drunk is extremely dangerous, but a study by AAA says we should be just as worried about driving while sleepy.

The study says you have similar chances of being in a crash while drunk as you do when you have only slept for four or five hours (compared to seven or more).

Over 20 percent of crashes that ended in death had a tired driver involved, AAA says. The study also pointed towards the fact that crash data from midnight to 6 a.m. was not available, so it's possible the study underestimates the effects of sleepiness behind the wheel.

And it's not just if you get five hours of sleep a night. AAA found that drivers who slept for one or more hours less than they usually sleep in the past 24 hours are also at a greater risk of crashing.

That's because being overly tired can slow down your reflexes, decrease your awareness for what's going on around you and impair your judgement – just like if you've been drinking, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said on Facebook.

Drowsy drivers are the main reason for at least 100,000 police-reported crashes and more than 1,500 traffic fatalities every year, according to MnDOT. In 2015, 95 people died in crashes involving drunk drivers, the Office of Traffic Safety says.

Tips to avoid a crash

Obviously, don't drive drunk or tired.

As a healthy adult, get seven hours of sleepy daily. Since the effects of sleep deprivation are worse when driving in the early morning hours, scheduling car trips later in the day could help, the AAA study says.

If you plan on drinking, line up a sober ride home or call a taxi or an Uber. (Some Minnesota establishments are encouraging people to leave their cars behind if they've celebrated a bit too hard.)

And wear your seatbelt. The Office of Traffic Safety reported 132 fewer crash deaths after the Minnesota Primary Seat Belt law was implemented in 2009.

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