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Study: alarming number of drivers are sleeping at the wheel

Many people in Illinois think that drunk drivers cause the biggest risk on our roadways. While drunk drivers are certainly negligent and very hazardous, people may be surprised about another type of person that is behind the wheel in far too many vehicles: the sleepy driver.

According to a study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 24 drivers admitted to dozing off while driving within the past month at least once. That means that about 4 percent of U.S. adults may be sleeping at the wheel. This is very concerning as fatigued driving is incredibly dangerous and is responsible for many fatal and serious car accidents throughout Illinois.

The CDC came to these results after conducting a massive telephone survey involving 147,000 adults in 19 states as well as the District of Columbia.

While it is not clear just how many fatal accidents involve sleepy drivers--studies put the number at anywhere between 3 and 33 percent--dozing off for just one second while driving is extremely risky. When driving at 60 mph, one travels the length of two school buses in a matter of 60 seconds.

The study found that fatigued driving is most common among men and among people between the ages of 25 and 34, as well as those who get less than six hours of sleep nightly.

The study's lead author has said that anyone who feels drowsy while driving should exit the road and rest. Symptoms of drowsiness include not remembering the previous mile or so, drifting onto the side of the road and feeling tired.

Whenever someone is injured due to a negligent driver--such as one who is sleeping--the victim may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses and other related costs by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Preventing drowsy driving, of course, is preferable. The CDC recommends getting no less than seven hours of sleep each night, to treat sleeping disorders and to avoid alcohol consumption before driving to ensure you are awake and alert behind the wheel.

Source: Associated Press, "CDC: 1 in 24 admit to nodding off while driving," Mike Stobee, Jan. 3, 2012

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