One in 25 reports falling asleep at the wheel: CDC report

July 4, 2014 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter
One in 25 reports falling asleep at the wheel: CDC report
Young adult males and binge drinkers more likely to drive while drowsy, study finds

(HealthDay)—In a new government survey, one in 25 U.S. drivers said they had fallen asleep at the wheel a least once over the prior month.

The study found those most at risk for having accidents while driving drowsy are those under 25, males, people who binge drink, people who don't wear seat belts, folks with sleep problems, and, not surprisingly, those who regularly sleep less than five hours a night, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"About 4 percent, or one in 25 people, reported falling asleep while driving in the month before the survey," said lead author Anne Wheaton, a CDC epidemiologist.

The problem is worse among people who sleep less than they should. In fact, most drowsy driving occurs early in the morning or late at night "when your body is telling you, you should be in bed," Wheaton said.

As many as 7,500 fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States might be caused by drowsy driving each year, she said. Many of these are single car accidents, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

You don't have to fall asleep to be a danger if you're tired at the wheel, note the study authors. Drowsy drivers have slower reaction time, poorer judgment and vision, as well as difficulty processing information, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Drowsy drivers are also likely to be less vigilant and motivated and more moody and aggressive, the sleep group says.

Although the report only covers 10 states and Puerto Rico, Wheaton said other states report similar statistics, so she believes these data are applicable throughout the country.

The finding that binge drinkers are more likely to drive while drowsy is particularly troubling. Drinking is a double-edged sword, Wheaton said. "Alcohol amplifies the effect of drowsiness, but also if you're drowsy, it doesn't take as much alcohol for you to be impaired," Wheaton said.

Wheaton doesn't know if there is more drowsy driving than there used to be, but she is sure the problem isn't going away.

"We do know that people are getting less sleep than they used to. You've got people who have really long commutes. And we think that the prevalence of sleep apnea is also increasing, because it tends to go along with obesity, and we know that that's increasing. So it's [drowsy driving] definitely not going down," she said.

Wheaton's advice: "Get enough sleep." In addition, don't drink and drive, see a doctor if you have a sleep disorder, and always wear a seat belt, she said.

The study authors also noted that interventions to prevent drowsy driving aimed at young men might be helpful, as this group has a higher risk of drowsy driving.

If you find yourself nodding off at the wheel, the researchers recommended getting off the road and getting some rest. "Turning up the radio, opening the window, and turning up the air conditioner have not proven to be effective techniques to stay awake," they wrote.

The findings were published July 4 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Explore further: CDC: 1 in 24 admit nodding off while driving

More information: For more information on drowsy driving, visit the National Sleep Foundation.

CDC: www.cdc.gov/mmwr

Related Stories

CDC: 1 in 24 admit nodding off while driving

January 3, 2013
This could give you nightmares: 1 in 24 U.S. adults say they recently fell asleep while driving.

Watch out for sleepy drivers this Thanksgiving holiday

November 26, 2013
(HealthDay)—Thanksgiving is a time of travel, but one expert warns that sleep deprivation and darkness can cause drivers to become sleepy even though they believe they're alert.

Sleep deprivation can cause drivers to doze when they believe they are awake

June 13, 2014
After the driver of a tractor-trailer apparently failed to react appropriately to slowed traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike and slammed into a limousine van early on the morning of June 7, killing one passenger and injuring ...

Short sleepers most likely to be drowsy drivers, study finds

October 2, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Federal data suggests that 15 to 33 percent of fatal automobile crashes are caused by drowsy drivers, but very little research has addressed what factors play a role in operating a vehicle in this impaired ...

Lack of sleep? Young drivers care less

March 9, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Young male drivers are ignoring the dangers of driving while tired, according to a new research study.

Drowsy driving an increasing hazard, say medical experts

October 28, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Many of us make light of that relatively short drive home. But getting behind the wheel when you're sleepy can cost lives and lead to imprisonment and a hefty fine.

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.