"This is the first study to actually quantify the relationship between lack of sleep and the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash", said report author Brian Tefft, who added that the risk of sleep-impaired driving has always been "underestimated and underappreciated".
"Thirty-five percent of USA drivers sleep less than the recommended 7 hours daily", said Greg Seiter, with AAA, "and with drowsy driving involved in one in five fatal crashes each year, this is something we really have to pay a lot of attention to".
It's recommended people get at least seven hours of sleep daily.
Jake Nelson, the AAA's director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research, said: 'Managing a healthy work-life balance can be hard and far too often we sacrifice our sleep as a result.
If you don't get enough sleep, you are increasing your chances of crashing while driving. This is the same crash risk the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration associates with driving over the legal limit for alcohol.
And you may not realize just how many drivers are not getting the needed rest.
Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety and research for AAA, the nonprofit roadside assistance and services organization, urges people to build adequate sleep into their schedules to protect themselves and their loved ones.
"The study may underestimate the risk of driving while sleep-deprived, because data on crashes that occurred between midnight and 6 a.m. were not available, and other studies have shown that the effects of sleep deprivation. are greatest during the early morning hours".
Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven.
For the report, which was released Tuesday, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety examined data from a NHTSA survey.
The AAA Foundation report is based on the analysis of a representative sample of 7,234 drivers involved in 4,571 crashes. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation's mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety.