You may want to make that restaurant cup of coffee with dessert a “full-caff” instead of a decaf after all. In some startling news, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced that 1 in 24 U.S. adult drivers admit that they have recently fallen asleep behind the wheel. And researchers behind this study actually believe that the number may be higher than that, because most people don’t notice when they nod off for one to two seconds while driving.
Approximately 4% of adults admitted that they nodded off or actually fell asleep at least once while driving during the previous month. Other studies had found similar conclusions, but this most recent study found an even larger number than previously thought. The phone study of 147,000 people was conducted in 19 states and the District of Columbia and took place between 2009 and 2010.
Researchers found that sleepy driving was more prevalent among men, adults between the ages of 25-34 and people who only averaged less than 6 hours of sleep a night. Also – for some unknown reason – Texans.
Although the Texas numbers are confusing, researchers think that the survey sample may have included more sleep-deprived young adults or people who suffer from obesity, which can create apnea.
In general the federal government estimates that up to 3% of fatal crashes involve sleep-deprived drivers. However, some other estimates have put the number as high as 33%. The warning signs of tired driving include the following: not remembering the last one or two miles; drifting into the other lane or onto rumble strips; or droopy eyelids and constant blinking to alleviate blurry vision. If any of those actions or symptoms occur, drivers should immediately pull off the road and rest.
Even the slightest amount of nodding off can be very dangerous. At speeds of only 60 miles per hour, 1 second translates into 88 feet. As a prevention for driving when sleep-deprived, always try to get at least 8 hours sleep and try not to drink alcohol before getting behind the wheel.