New study shows how “drowsy drivers” contribute to fatal crashes on the road

Health
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(Nov. 6, 2014)– Drowsy driving is becoming more of a concern.  According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 21 percent of fatal crashes involve driver fatigue.

AAA urges drivers to recognize the warning signs of driver fatigue and take action, especially during the holiday season and now that daylight saving time is over.

“Try to drive during the regular hour you’re accustomed to,” said AAA spokesman, Greg Seiter. “Schedule a break every couple of hours or at least 100 miles when you’re driving long distances and avoid heavy foods. Those can really make you sluggish and help to bring you down a little bit.”

Here are some of the warning signs of driver fatigue:

  • The inability to recall the last few miles
  • Having disconnected or wandering thoughts
  • Feeling as though your head is heavy
  • Drifting out of your lane or driving on the rumble strips

“It’s equivalent to being a drunk driver,” said Dr. Shalini Manchanda, an IU Health sleep disorder specialist. “Now we would not allow a drunk driver to be driving on the streets we would actually test them, so I don’t see why we should let a sleep driver drive,”

Dr. Manchanda says its possible to fall asleep even with your eyes open while driving.

“If a person is sleepy, they may actually have their eyes open but they’ll have what we call little burst of sleep interspersed with their awakening and that’s when they’re actually lapsing into sleep and that’s when bad things happen,” said Dr. Manchanda.

Despite the fact, 95 percent of Americans say drowsy driving is unacceptable, but more than 28 percent admit to doing so in the past month.

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