by Dr. Reeja Tharu on  February 11, 2013 at 2:06 PM Health Watch
Drowsiness and Driving: Fatal Bedfellows
This is the stuff that nightmares are made of - about 4 percent of adults in the U.S. have admitted to trysts with sleep while driving!

In a large study carried out between 2009-10 on 147000 individuals from 19 states by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 24 U.S. adults revealed that they have had an encounter with sleep while driving, sometime recently. They have admitted to either nodding off or falling asleep at least once while driving during the previous month. Some earlier studies too have reported similar finding.

What is more frightening is that the officials think the number of sleepy drivers is much higher as many wouldn't notice if they actually nodded off while driving!!

The CDC reported that drowsiness while driving was commonly observed in people between the ages of 25 to 34, and especially in those who slept less than six hours per day on an average. The other interesting fact is that this phenomenon was commonly observed in men, particularly Texans.

Anne Wheaton of CDC said this observation in the study could be due to the inclusion of larger number of sleep-deprived adults or overweight individuals with sleep apnea.

The results of the findings are not surprising as the number of sleep deprived people is rising steeply! Different studies have revealed that the frequency of automobile accidents due to drowsy driving is between 3 to 33 percent.

Drivers must heed the warning signs of sleepiness when they experience it. The signs include -

feeling extremely tired,

failing to remember the last mile or two, or

drifting onto one side of the road.

When this happens the drivers must pull off the road and rest for a while. Every driver should remember that at 60 mph even a single second means speeding along 88 feet which is almost the length of two school buses. Therefore even a micro moment of drowsiness could be fatal.

It might be a good idea to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night especially for those who are frequently behind the wheels. Other factors that must be considered is avoiding consuming alcohol before driving and seeking treatment for sleep disorders, if any!

Prevention is not just better than cure - it is life saving!

Source: Medindia

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