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Dangers of Driving Drowsy

Most people in a hurry-up society will admit that they donft get enough sleep. Even knowing there are health risks and mental consequences doesnft motivate many to get the recommended eight-hours of sleep per night. But recent studies have shown a new danger to sleep deprivation -- drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving has been under scrutiny by behavior and safety specialists for some time now. There is even a law against it in New Jersey, called gMaggiefs Lawh. This law allows authorities there to charge a driver with vehicular manslaughter if they kill another in a traffic accident while driving drowsy. But the worrisome facts of drowsy driving remain largely unknown.

Seventy percent of us admit to not getting enough sleep at night. One-third get less than seven hours. While that may sound eclosef to enough, the old rule about eight hours of sleep isnft quite right.

Sleep cycles, which are a necessary part of resting-sleep, come in 1-1/2 hour increments. Getting only a portion of a cycle doesnft count toward the total required number. While epower napsf of 30-40 minutes can temporarily boost energy, they do nothing for long-term mental, physical or emotional stability, and fool us into thinking wefre performing at our peak. Eight hours of resting sleep really is required for everyone, even if you think you do fine with less.

So how does this translate? What does drowsy driving cost us?

Considered as dangerous as driving while drunk, driving sleepy is a killer. And itfs more wide-spread than one might think, because 20% of Americans, or 32 million people, admit to falling asleep while driving within the last year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 100,000 traffic accidents are blamed each year on this problem, and many believe the number is actually much higher. 1,500 deaths every year are caused people who are too tired to drive taking their place behind the wheel, anyway. Another 70,000 injured. While thatfs considerably less than the loss of life from drunk driving (11.773 fatalities in 2008), some experts believe drowsy driving numbers are at least 3 times higher than those reported. .

If youfre a driver, consider the following.

How much sleep do you average per night? If youfre on the eshy sidef, consider
watching less late-night TV (record it and watch it later),
studying earlier in the day
turning your cell phone off after dinner and returning calls or texts the next day
taking a nap lasting the cycle time (1-1/2 hours)

Students and young adults often have jobs or activities that put them on the road later than other drivers. If youfre driving late at night and youfre not drowsy, odds are that someone in the lane next to you is. Be hyper-aware of those around you on the road.

Have you ever dozed off behind the wheel? If you avoided an accident, youfre lucky. Donft count on luck again. If youfre too tired to drive, pull over. Get a caffeinated drink, guzzle it down and take a power nap of at least 30 minutes. The caffeine will take about that long to hit your bloodstream, anyway, and the nap will help. Observe safety by picking a secure place to park, locking your car doors, etc. If that doesnft make you feel more alert, call for a ride. Treat drowsy driving as seriously as you would treat drunk driving. Itfs far better to have to find a ride to fetch your car in the morning than to end up a statistic because you dozed off.

Statistics were taken from "The Early Show" articles online. A special thanks to them.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Debora Dyess. All rights reserved.
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