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CAA says drowsy driving as dangerous as drunk driving following AAA study

RCMP warn drivers of the dangers of sleepy driving
WATCH ABOVE: RCMP are warning drivers to make sure they get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. That after a new study showed drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Global's Shelley Steeves reports.

RCMP are warning drivers to make sure they get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel.

A new study released this week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in the United States shows that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.

The new research shows that drivers who miss only one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep per night nearly double their risk of crashing.

“In fact if you get less that five hours you can be the same as being impaired,” said Gary Howard with the Canadian Automobile Association.

Howard said that 20 per cent of accidents in Canada are caused by drowsy driving.

“[That] equals about the same among as distracted driving like texting or using a cell phone. So that is a very high number I think that surprises a lot of people,” Howard said.

According to the AAA study, the risk of a crash depends on the amount of hours sleep:

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· Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash risk
· Five to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk
· Four to five hours of sleep: 4.3 times the crash risk
· Less than four hours of sleep: 11.5 times the crash risk

Sgt. Chantal Farrah with the New Brunswick RCMP said drowsy driving can be just as deadly as driving impaired and she is asking motorists to be sure they get enough rest before getting behind the wheel this holiday season.

“Don’t take that risk,” Farrah said. “If you are going to drive long distance maybe plan some pit stops along the way so you can energize yourself.”

Howard recommends that drivers try not to travel during their normal sleep times, “If you find yourself sort of nodding off or you don’t remember the last few kilometers pull over and get some rest.”