Health

The scary reality of sleepy driving: Too many of us do it

July 3, 2014 at 2:19 PM ET

Drunk drivers and texting teenagers are bad enough, but the latest report from the federal government shows that sleepy drivers are putting us all at risk, also. Fully 4 percent of drivers surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confessed to having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past month. Drowsy driving plays a role in as many as 7,500 fatal crashes — 25 percent of all crashes — CDC’s Dr. Anne Wheaton and colleagues wrote in the CDC’s weekly report.

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Drowsy drivers who don’t fall all the way asleep can still cause accidents, by missing exits or drifting out of their lanes, Wheaton’s team wrote. Drinking’s still the biggest single cause of road deaths, however.

“In 2012, nearly one third (10,322) of the 33,561 traffic fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired driving crashes,” the CDC team wrote. “In addition, half of vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seatbelts.”

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