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Drowsy Drivers

Driving on the nation’s roadways is dangerous enough, given the problems regarding the ever-growing use of smartphones while driving. But a recent study revealed something else just as problematic: drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly five percent of drivers surveyed said they had dozed off while driving during the past month. The chief reason, they indicated, was a lack of sleep. While the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggests seven to nine hours of sleep every night, 35 percent of those who took part in the CDC study reported getting less than seven hours of sleep.

Sleep deprivation has resulted in drowsy drivers causing more than 100,000 motor vehicle accidents a year, with 40,000 injuries. Sleepiness affects the body in various ways, including impaired vision, poor judgment and slower reflexes, all of which are critical when driving a vehicle.

According to the NSF, anyone driving who feels sleepy should promptly find a place to pull over and get off the road. Not sure if you’re sleepy? There are definite signs, among them heavy eyelids, the inability to focus, swerving on the road and heavy yawning. One of the surest signs you shouldn’t be driving is when you are turning up the radio to wake up or rolling down the window for cold or fresh air.

To prevent drowsy driving and putting other drivers and passengers at risk, the NSF suggests getting more than seven hours of sleep before driving, taking a break every two hours during long drives, and drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks to enhance alertness.