Don't think drowsy driving is a problem? Here's a scary statistic: 1 in 24 adults admit they've recently nodded off while driving, a new CDC study finds.
Just think about the number of cars you pass by every day. How many of these drivers were actually alert at the time you pulled up next to them?
What's worse, health officials say that the study probably underestimates the number of drowsy drivers out there. That's because people often fall asleep for only a second or two, and never realize they dozed off while driving, reports the Associated Press.
If after reading the above you remain skeptical -- because after all, a survey can be used to prove just about anything -- you should realize that this survey was quite large and included 147,000 adults in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and was conducted over a two-year period, reports the AP.
So what's the cause of 4 percent of us falling asleep at the wheel? While CDC researchers do not know the exact reason, they suspect it may be that we simply get too little sleep.
Their study found that men between 25 and 34 were most likely to fall asleep at the wheel, and that these drivers tended to average less than six hours of sleep each night. And while the numbers vary widely, some experts believe as many as one-third of all fatal car accidents may be caused by sleepy drivers.
Some warning signs of drowsy driving can include:
- Feeling tired,
- Not remembering the last mile or two driven,
- Drifting onto rumble strips,
- Daydreaming and being preoccupied with wandering thoughts, and
- Difficulty focusing or heavy eyelids.
If you experience these signs, you should get off the road and catch some shuteye. Experts say that the best way to prevent drowsy driving is to get adequate sleep, about seven to nine hours a night, and of course to avoid drinking any alcohol before driving.
- Drowsy Driving -- 19 States and the District of Columbia, 2009-2010 (CDC)
- Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving (FindLaw's Injured)
- Study: Driver Fatigue as Unsafe as Drunk Drivers (FindLaw's Injured)