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Many drivers are literally asleep behind the wheel, study finds

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: sleeping, driving, health news

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(NaturalNews) A new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that nearly half of all drivers have dozed off or fallen asleep while driving at least once in their lives. In fact, according to the data, most drivers that are not under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, speeding, texting, or engaged in some other distracting activity in their cars, are most likely not fully awake.

As cited in the Los Angeles Times, the traffic study found that more than ten percent of drivers have dozed off while driving within the past year, the majority of which are teenagers and men. And by dozing off, this includes actually falling asleep for more than a minute while driving on a multi-lane highway.

"Many of us tend to underestimate the negative effects associated with fatigue and sleep deprivation," explained Kathleen Marvaso, a vice president at AAA, to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the same survey of 2,000 U.S. residents, men are 61 percent more likely than women to have been sleepy prior to getting in a car accident. And people between the ages of 16 and 24 are 78 percent more likely than people between the ages of 40 and 59 to have been half asleep before an accident.

Interestingly, most sleepy drivers are not even aware of how tired they really are prior to getting behind the wheel fatigued. Despite saying they felt fully awake prior to driving, more than 70 percent of respondents said they actually became so fatigued that they had an extremely hard time trying to stay awake during a driving trip.

AAA recommends that people get at least six hours of sleep the night before attempting a long driving trip. The organization also suggests that during long driving trips, drivers take a break every two hours or 100 miles, whichever comes first.

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