Study: Sleepiness Factor In 17% Of Road Deaths 11-08-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Study: Sleepiness Factor In 17% Of Road Deaths 11-08-2010

Many drivers don't realize that some common over-the-counter medicines could cause drowsiness.
In fact, four in 10 Americans report that there have been times when they were driving and realized that the medicine they had taken was making them drowsy.
Sleep deprivation can be deadly on the highway.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that more than 40 percent of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point. One in ten said they've done so in the past year.
The foundation says drowsy driving is a contributing factor in 17 percent of all fatal crashes. And yet, more than a quarter of the drivers surveyed admitted they drove despite being so tired that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open.
Foundation spokesman Dan Bleier says "just like drugs or alcohol, sleepiness can impair drivers' awareness, reaction time and judgment."
He recommends plenty of sleep the night before a long road trip. And even though the trip might take a little longer, Bleier urges frequent rest breaks -- even short power naps -- every 200 miles or so.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving:
Many drivers don't realize that some common over-the-counter medicines could cause drowsiness. In fact, four in 10 Americans report that there have been times when they were driving and realized that the medicine they had taken was making them drowsy.
"Taking a medication that may cause drowsiness can put people at risk for nodding off behind the wheel and potentially harming themselves or others," says Marjorie Slankard, M.D., clinical professor of medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "It's important to carefully read the labels of medications and understand the side effects."
Tips for Preventing Drowsy Driving:
  • Always remember to check medicine labels, including allergy medicines, for warnings about drowsiness before getting behind the wheel
  • Avoid driving if you're feeling drowsy
  • Schedule breaks during long trips every 100 miles or arrange for a travel companion
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Stop driving if you start feeling drowsy behind the wheel

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