We all know that driving while texting or under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released a survey taken back in 2009 and 2010 by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) showing just how lethal drowsy driving can be. According to the survey, drowsy driving accounted for almost 730 fatal crashes and around 30,000 non-fatal crashes in 2009, and it shows that 4.2 percent of more than 147,000 respondents had fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once in a 30-day period before the survey was taken.
As frightening as that is, the survey was limited to just 19 states and the District of Columbia and did not include teen drivers under the age of 18, which means the number could be even higher. Back in November, we reported on a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that indicated one in seven (around 14 percent) drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 admitted to falling asleep while driving compared to the overall average of 10 percent admitting to dozing off behind the wheel. The BRFSS survey showed that Oregon had the lowest percentage of drowsy drivers (2.5 percent) while Texas had the highest number (6.1 percent). The CDC points out that two major contributing factors to drowsy driving are snoring and getting less than six hours of sleep per day – both are symptoms of sleep apnea.
While accidents and fatalities as a result of drowsy driving are no laughing matter, we couldn’t help but think of the Grizwald family as they traveled to Walley World in National Lampoon’s Vacation (pictured above). Visit Sleep Education or the CDC for more information on this study.