Though drunk driving and distracted driving are the most publicized dangerous road behaviors, a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is highlighting another all too common issue on the road: drowsy driving.
The results of this study were released last Thursday and offered this nightmare of a statistic: 1 in 24 adults in the US admitted to nodding off or falling asleep while driving in the last month. That translates to approximately 4 percent of drivers in our country driving while drowsy.
Furthermore, the health officials who administered this particular test expect the number of drowsy drivers to be higher than reported. They believe that is because many people don't realize when they drift off for a few seconds behind the wheel.
Additional findings from this report, which surveyed nearly 150,000 drivers in 19 states, concluded that driving while sleepy was more common in people ages 25-34, for those who averaged less than six hours of sleep per night, as well as men. The CDC researchers who are experts in this field were not surprised by the results because they believe that many people are getting insufficient sleep.
According an estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2 percent of motor vehicle accidents involve drowsy driving, and drowsy driving accidents are more likely to be fatal. A doctor consulted in CDC's study reported that typical drivers make about 1,000 split decisions per minute and driving while fatigued can have the same influence as driving while intoxicated - it greatly impaired decision making, judgment and reaction time. Even a brief moment of nodding off can be extremely dangerous when operating a vehicle.
Warning signs of drowsy driving include: yawning frequently, feeling exceptionally sleepy or fatigued, not remembering the last mile or two driven, missing an exit or turn or drifting onto rumble strips on the side of the road. All of these behaviors signal that a driver should get off the road immediately and take a rest.
In order to prevent drowsy driving, health officials recommend getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, treating sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia, closely checking medication labels to check for side effects of sleepiness and avoiding the consumption of alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel.
For more information on the dangers of drowsy driving, warning signs and prevention tips, please visit: http://drowsydriving.org/ and remember to get plenty of Zzzz's so that you are able to stay safe, alert and awake on the road.