The problem of distracted and inattentive drivers is well known and studied, but new research indicates that some drivers may be even more dangerous – those who aren’t awake at all.
Drowsy driving is a major contributing factor to many Chicago car accidents. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent finds that approximately 4 percent of drivers in Illinois and around the country have a problem staying awake behind the wheel. The CDC surveyed about 147,000 drivers across the country and 1 in 24 admitted to having fallen asleep behind the wheel during the past month.
“The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to recognize and address the conditions that lead to sleepiness,” researchers said. “Those at increased risk for drowsy driving include commercial drivers, persons who work at night or long shifts, drivers with untreated sleep disorders, drivers who use sedating medications, and anyone who does not get adequate sleep.”
Researchers say that adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep before driving and avoid driving after consuming alcohol. The CDC also says that the impact of drowsy driving is likely underreported and that up to a third of all car accidents could be related to drowsy driving.
“Although it is clear that falling asleep while driving is dangerous, drowsiness impairs driving skills even if drivers manage to stay awake,” CDC researchers said. “Drowsiness slows reaction time, makes drivers less attentive, and impairs decision-making skills, all of which can contribute to motor vehicle crashes.”