A new report from the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, says that 1 in 24 people say they fell asleep at least once while driving in the previous month. Health officials believe that the number is probably higher because some people might not realize they fell asleep for a few seconds.
The CDC reached the conclusion that four percent of US adults fell asleep while driving by conducting a phone survey of 147,000 adults in 19 states and the District of Columbia in 2009 and 2010. The researchers found that the most likely groups to fall asleep behind the wheel were men, people between the ages of 25 and 35, people who averaged less than six hours of sleep at night, and, for some odd reason, Texans.
The study’s lead author, Anne Wheaton of the Centers for Disease Control, tried to explain why Texans were included in the groups likely to fall asleep. She said it may be because the Texas survey sample included a larger number of sleep-deprived young adults or overweight people who suffered from sleep apnea.
Most of the CDC findings are not surprising to those who study this problem. Yahoo News reports Dr. Gregory Belenky, director of Washington State University’s Sleep and Performance Research Center in Spokane, said, “A lot of people are getting insufficient sleep.”
The government estimates around three percent of fatal traffic accidents are due to tired drivers, but other estimates are as high as 33 percent. According to The Huffington Post, Wheaton said, “If I’m on the road, I’d be a little worried about the other drivers.” Wheaton also warned that if motorists feel very tired, can’t remember the last few miles, or are drifting into the rumble strips on the side of the road than those are warning signs the driver should get off the road and rest.
The CDC recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep, treating sleep disorders, and avoiding alcohol before driving.