Asleep At The Wheel

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As you’re driving on your daily commutes, your chances are about 24 to 1 that the person driving next to you could be falling asleep while driving.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Thursday that 1 in 24 adults in the United States admitted that they recently fell asleep while driving, and officials believe that number could be higher.

i-20Lead author Anne Wheaton of the CDC said that she is concerned about the findings. “If I’m on the road, I’d be a little worried about the other drivers.”

Among 147,076 respondents, 4.2% reported having fallen asleep while driving at least once in the past 30 days. Texas was included in the study that was conducted by the Behavioral Risk Surveillance System (BRFSS) during 2009-2010.

One of the most disturbing results of the test was that Texas had a higher percentage that the other states. Texas drivers reported that 6.1% had fallen asleep over the last 30 days, compared to the lowest state, which was Oregon with 2.5%.

“Persons who reported snoring or usually sleeping less than 6 hours per day were more likely to report falling asleep while driving,” said Wheaton.

Overall, men between the ages of 25-34 were the most likely candidates to fall asleep while driving.

“The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to recognize and address the conditions that lead to sleepiness. Those at increased risk for drowsy driving include commercial drivers, persons who work at night or long shifts, drivers with untreated sleep disorders, drivers who use sedating medications, and anyone who does not get adequate sleep,” says Wheaton. “Drivers should ensure that they get enough sleep (7–9 hours), seek treatment for sleep disorders, and refrain from alcohol use before driving.”

According to the report, some of the signs of drowsy driving include frequent yawning or blinking, difficulty remembering the past few miles driven, missing exits, drifting from one’s lane, or hitting a rumble strip.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation in March 2011, drowsy driving was reported in 2.2 to 2.6 percent of total fatal crashes from 2005 to 2009, nationwide.

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent drowsy driving is to recognize and address the conditions that lead to sleepiness. Those at increased risk for drowsy driving include commercial drivers, persons who work at night or long shifts, drivers with untreated sleep disorders, drivers who use sedating medications, and anyone who does not get adequate sleep.

In their guide for employers of shift workers (i.e., anyone who works beyond the typical workday, including night shift, rotating shift, or long shift workers), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that employers consider providing alternate transportation home for employees or allowing naps at work.

However, once on the road, it is also important to recognize the symptoms of drowsiness and act appropriately, by pulling over to rest until fully rested or by changing drivers. “Techniques to stay awake while driving, such as turning up the radio, opening the window, and turning up the air conditioner, have not been found to be effective,” advises Wheaton.

You can see the report at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6151a1.htm?s_cid=mm6151a1_w