New alert about driving while tired

ABC News' Gio Benitez tests his brain in a simulator after a lack of sleep to show what happens to someone who is tired behind the wheel.
4:16 | 03/08/19

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Transcript for New alert about driving while tired
We are back now with an alert about driving while tired. As daylight saving time approaches this weekend we'll jump ahead an hour which means losing an hour of sleep and that can be pretty dangerous if you're behind the wheel. We put a sleep deprived gio Benitez in a simulator to see what could happen. Good morning, gio. Glad you're awake and here. I survived. We always hear about the importance of sleep but shooting this report brought it home to me. Losing an hour of sleep this weekend can make an impact. So I took part in a safe driving experiment after staying up almost all night, the results dramatic, even worse than I thought they'd be. Car crashes like this happen a lot. Officials say a suspected drowsy driver crashed that this truck pushing it into the barrier and this driver slamming into a toll booth and he's ejected. Everyone survived these accidents but experts estimate more than 7,000 people have been killed in drowsy driving-related crashes over the last decade. I've definitely dozed off. It's about 1:00 A.M. Now. Reporter: Now I'm staying up to demonstrate how devastating lack of sleep can be on the brain. All in an effort to help prevent accidents. I probably got if I were to add it all up about two hours of sleep. Reporter: After being up for most of the past 29 hours I get into a driving simulator at the classic car club of Manhattan. Meeting me there experts from New York's mt. Sinai integrated sleep center who Mon terror my alertness during a driving simulation test and hook me up to a device that will monitor brain waves. Sleep is defined by the frequency of brain waves. As you go to sleep that should slow down. My first six minutes 134509 driving but then crash after crash after crash. After 15 minutes a significant slowdown. Lots of yawns and more spinouts. In fact, I would crash or spin out about once a minute. After half an hour I just had to stop. There were moments when suddenly my attention would be back on the road but I wouldn't remember what happened immediately before. Some of what you're describing we call automatic behaviors, this is especially when people are driving on the highway they just get into this automated mode. Like a trance. Like a trance. Reporter: Back at the lap my results. So, doctor, what did you find? While there was no frank sleep that there were definitely lots of pieces of evidence of increased drowsiness including a lot of microsleep so we see that these are these bursts of slower activities that are indicative of your brain going offline. Reporter: Here's what stunned me. In those 30 minutes of driving I experienced about 30 episodes of what experts call microsleep. That's what the brain goes offline for one to three seconds. Essential even even though my eyes were mostly open and appeared awake my brain would briefly go into sleep mode. The frequency with which it was occurring was really to me very dramatic. Fragmented sleep supply think it would have been pretty similar if you hadn't slept at all. Unbelievable. And here's why this is important. One study found that people who slept six hours a night fortwo weeks functioned just as poorly as those who stayed awake for two days straight so we truly need to schedule that sleep seven to nine hours for adult. Losing just an hour again this weekend we really can be affected. I'm a five to six-hour guy. Not anymore. That brain scan just shocked me. Two weeks of six hours a night was the same as only getting two hours' sleep -- The same as if you were staying awake for two days straight. Wow. George is like I've been awake for a lot of days in a row. Your brain showed those moments where it went offline, the scan did but that microsleep, that is very dangerous. You don't know it's happening. You don't know it's happening. We had those bursts. That's why we did the experiment because we had those one to three-second bursts of microsleep and that's when I lost control. That's when I crashed the car and I just didn't know what was going on. You see me yawning right there. I was yawning a lot. Can I ask one more question. How good of a driver were you before? I haven't been in an accident since I was 18, Michael. You live in the city. You've been taking Ubers, that's why. Thanks again for taking one for the team, gio.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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