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Study: Disturbing numbers of drivers nodding off behind wheel

Posted on in Car Accidents

While distracted driving is one of the most common reasons for a traffic accident, it seems there's another concern for those on the road. A recent study conducted in 19 states and the District of Columbia and involving 147,000 drivers revealed about 4 percent of those drivers had nodded off at least once while driving in the last month.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the study, estimate the actual number may be higher, as many drivers don't realize it when they momentarily doze off. When this happens, it is highly likely that a car accident will ensue and individuals may become injured or fatally wounded.

Those most likely to fall asleep are men, people from 25 to 34 years of age, and those who averaged less than six hours of sleep per night. Surprisingly, Texans also showed a greater propensity for dozing off behind the wheel. According to the study's lead author, the sampling of Texans used in the study may have included larger numbers of young adults not getting enough sleep or overweight adults with sleep apnea.

Government sources estimate about 3 percent of fatal car accidents are caused by sleepy drivers, though some sources believe the actual number is likely closer to 33 percent. Even a driver nodding off for just one second at 60 mph is speeding along unconscious at 88 mph for 88 feet.

Drivers who are feeling very tired don't remember driving the last mile or more or drifting onto rumble strips. For safety's sake, these individuals should pull over and get some rest before proceeding. In the long term, it's best for drivers to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, address any sleep disorders and not drink alcoholic beverages before getting behind the wheel.

Source: Boston.com, "CDC: 1 in 24 admit nodding off while driving," Mike Stobbe, Jan. 3, 2013

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