CDC: 1 in 24 Admit Nodding Off While Driving

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Most of the CDC findings are not surprising to those who study this problem.

“A lot of people are getting insufficient sleep,” said Dr. Gregory Belenky, director of Washington State University’s Sleep and Performance Research Center in Spokane.

The government estimates that about three percent of fatal traffic crashes involve drowsy drivers, but other estimates have put that number as high as 33 percent.

Warning signs of drowsy driving include feeling very tired, not remembering the last mile or two, or drifting onto rumble strips on the side of the road. These indicators signals that a driver should get off the road and rest, Wheaton said.

Even a brief moment nodding off can be extremely dangerous, she noted. At 60 mph, a single second translates to speeding along for 88 feet — the length of two school buses.

To prevent drowsy driving, health officials recommend getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, treating any sleep disorders and not drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

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