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Drowsy Driving 'Unacceptable,' But One-Third Do It: Poll

FRIDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly one-third (32 percent) of American drivers admitted to drowsy driving in the past month, even though 96 percent of the respondents said drowsy driving is an unacceptable behavior, according to a new survey.

The poll by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety was released to coincide with this year's Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Nov. 6 to 12, hosted by the foundation, the AAA and the National Sleep Foundation.

Drowsy driving can have serious consequences. These drivers are involved in one of every six deadly crashes and one in eight crashes resulting in serious injury, according to a study released last year by the AAA Foundation.

"Although the vast majority of drivers recognize the serious threat of drowsy driving, a 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude exists when getting behind the wheel. Drowsy driving kills, just as sure as drunk, drugged and distracted driving does," AAA Foundation president and CEO Peter Kissinger said in a foundation news release. "Drivers have a tendency to underestimate the impact being tired has on their driving ability, which puts themselves and others at risk."

Two of every five drivers (41 percent) in the United States admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point, and one in 10 has done so in the past year, according to recent AAA Foundation research.

"What's so alarming is that over half of these drivers reported having fallen asleep while driving on high-speed roads," Jake Nelson, AAA's director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research, said in the news release. "These data underscore the importance of educating drivers about the dangers of drowsy driving."

Warning signs of drowsy driving include: difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused, and/or heavy eyelids; difficulty keeping your head up; drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips; inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven; missing traffic signs or driving past your exit; yawning repeatedly and rubbing your eyes; feeling irritable or restless.

The AAA offers the following drowsy driving prevention tips:

  • Sleep at least seven hours the night before a long trip.
  • Stop driving if you become sleepy.
  • Travel at times when you are normally awake. Stay overnight instead of driving straight through to your destination.
  • Take a break every two hours or every 100 miles.
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage but remember that it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream. Find a safe place to take a 20- to 30-minute nap while you wait for the caffeine to take effect.
  • Travel with an awake passenger.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more about drowsy driving.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: AAA Foundation, news release, Oct. 31, 2011

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