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CDC: Drowsy driving is truly dangerous and commonplace

A new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that one in 24 American drivers admits to having fallen asleep behind the wheel within the past month of being surveyed. Drowsy driving is a dangerous driving behavior that can significantly increase a person's risk of being involved in a car accident.

The survey involved 150,000 drivers from 19 states, as well as the District of Columbia. In the report, the CDC contends that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous a behavior as drinking, significantly increasing the risk of a car crash by delaying reactions and impairing decisions.

An author of the study encourages drivers to be mindful of the warning signs of drowsiness, including drifting in lanes, missing exits and yawning.

One Ohio expert, a doctor and division chief at a Cleveland medical facility, notes that accidents involving drowsy drivers are more likely to result in a fatal collision. According to that expert, drivers make, on average, about 1,000 rapid-fire decisions a minute, and drowsy drivers are less able to keep up with those cognitive demands.

Of the states where drivers were surveyed, Oregon had the lowest drowsy driving rate, at 2.5 percent. Texas was the highest, with 6.1 percent of drivers admitting to driving while sleepy.

Drowsy driving rates were more prevalent among men than women, and among younger drivers than older drivers.

To avoid driving while drowsy, people are recommended to get at least seven hours of sleep the night before driving. Drivers should be aware of medications that may cause drowsiness and seek treatment if they suffer from a sleep disorder.

Source: ABC News, "1 in 24 Americans drives drowsy, CDC says," Katie Moisse, Jan. 3, 2013

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