Friday, January 18, 2013

Have You Fallen Asleep While Driving?

Hands behind the wheel, tired driver, racheocity

Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel! It would seem that not everyone is a fan of taking the advice from "Roadhouse Blues", the classic hit song by The Doors. A new study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed over 147,000 people, of which 4.9% on average claimed that they've fallen asleep at least once while driving.

The survey, which was done from 2009-2010 and included drivers from 19 different states, found that Texas and California were among the states with the biggest problem of drowsy drivers. 6.1% of drivers in Texas and 4.8% Californians in the study admitting to falling asleep. Oregon, on the other hand, was found to have the least, with only 2.5% of drivers. My home state of Missouri fared well, with only a 3.3% rate which landed it closer towards the bottom of the list.

What were some of the key takeaways? Drivers were more likely to fall asleep if:
  • They had snoring problems
  • Less than six hours of sleep in a day
  • Fell asleep during the day
  • Were male
  • Between the ages of 25-34
St. Louis, twilight drive, tired driving

Uh oh. Based on those stats, I'm in the prime demographic for falling asleep while driving! As much as I hate to admit it, I've made the mistake in the past myself, having attempted road trips that began at night. At a certain point, it seems that no amount of Arizona Tea, Monster Energy, or novelty concept items like Le Whif can stop you from nodding off every few seconds. At least until you're jolted awake by the sound of your car rubbing up against the rumble strips on the highway.

Anne G. Wheaton, an epidemiologist and the lead author of the CDC report, said that long commutes and a higher percentage of shift workers can increase the likelihood of sleepy driving. "This percentage we reported is people that actually recognize that they had fallen asleep while driving," she said. "A lot of people, if they fall asleep for a second or two, don't even realize it."

What do you do to combat sleepiness when you have to drive somewhere for an extended amount of time? Do you think we're simply becoming more sleep deprived nowadays?