It is surprising just how many of us have fallen asleep while driving, often with serious and even fatal consequences.
According to the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, 37 percent of Americans have ever nodded off while driving. This occurs twice as often in men, with 49 percent admitting it compared to only 26 percent of women.
The NHTSA reports that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year. These accidents result in some 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths annually. These accidents do not include those caused by inattentive driving, which also may result from poor sleep.
Various factors can contribute to drowsy driving, including undiagnosed sleep disorders. In addition, the time of day, length of time driving, type of road, amount of sleep the night prior, and the use of alcohol or other prescription and non-prescription drugs may also contribute. Those who do shift work or drive at night need to be especially careful because of disruptions in the body's circadian rhythm.
In order to prevent drowsiness while driving, it is important to take frequent rest breaks. In addition, following good sleep guidelines will decrease the amount of baseline sleepiness that exists.
Follow me on Twitter to receive notice of all the latest updates to this site.