January 4, 2013 in Health, Nation/World

1 in 24 admit to falling asleep at the wheel

Mike Stobbe Associated Press
 

NEW YORK – This could give you nightmares: 1 in 24 U.S. adults say they recently fell asleep while driving.

And health officials behind the study think the number is probably higher. That’s because some people don’t realize it when they nod off for a second or two behind the wheel.

“If I’m on the road, I’d be a little worried about the other drivers,” said the study’s lead author, Anne Wheaton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the CDC study released Thursday, about 4 percent of U.S. adults said they nodded off or fell asleep at least once while driving in the previous month. Some earlier studies reached a similar conclusion, but the CDC telephone survey of 147,000 adults was far larger.

CDC researchers found drowsy driving was more common in men, people ages 25 to 34 and those who averaged less than six hours of sleep each night.

“A lot of people are getting insufficient sleep,” said Dr. Gregory Belenky, director of Washington State University’s Sleep and Performance Research Center in Spokane.

The government estimates that about 3 percent of fatal traffic crashes involve drowsy drivers, but other estimates have put that number as high as 33 percent.

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