Driving While Drowsy Is a Dangerous Risk, Say Experts

driving while tired

First comes a yawn, then your eyes get heavy. Maybe you drift into another lane or hit a rumble strip. You know you're tired, but figure you can push through it and roll down your window or turn up the music in your car. Sound familiar?

You're not alone – according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 24 Americans drove drowsy in the past month alone. What's more, researchers found that driving drowsy can be as dangerous as drunk driving.

Experts say that a typical driver makes approximately 1,000 decisions a minute and someone who hasn't gotten enough sleep impairs their decision-making ability. In fact, staying awake for 18 hours straight results in decision-making impairment similar to that of a drunk driver.

According to the report:

  • People who sleep less than six hours a day were more likely to report sleeping while driving.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that two percent of car accidents involve drowsy driving and says that those accidents are more likely to be fatal.
  • Men are more likely to drive drowsy than women, as are younger adults.
  • The lowest drowsy driving rate is in Oregon (2.5 percent) and the highest is in Texas (6.1 percent).

Driving safety officials say that people should get off the road as soon as they notice signs of sleepiness like yawning, missing exits, and drifting between lanes. The CDC encourages people to get at least seven hours of sleep a day and never drink alcohol or take sedative medications before driving.

Source: "1 in 24 Americans Drives Drowsy, CDC Says." ABCNews.com. January 3, 2013.