October 16, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Most drivers in the U.S. are familiar with the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving. Drowsy driving is, however, nearly as dangerous. According to information compiled by federal regulators, anywhere from 15 to 33 percent of all fatal car accidents
in the U.S. are caused by drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel. In fact, some experts have suggested that drowsy driving may be an even bigger safety problem in the U.S. than drunk driving. Although many people agree that drowsy driving is a serious safety hazard in the U.S., there has been surprisingly little research done on the subject.
Recently, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine published a study involving people's sleeping habits and how these habits can affect how they drive. The study, which was published in the recent edition of Accident Analysis and Prevention, indicates that those who receive less than six hours of sleep per night are more likely to be involved in car accidents caused by drowsiness.
What makes this recent survey particularly significant is that it is one of the first to use information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance system. The BRFSS, conducted in 2009, is a randomly conducted phone survey of individuals across the U.S. Experts from the CDC have designed the survey, which is the largest telephone survey in the world, to learn more about people's general behavior toward basic health issues.
The authors of the Penn study found that those who said they slept for less than six hours each night - generally known as "short sleepers" - were about three times more likely than others to report recent instances of driving while drowsy. This is true even if the drivers indicated that they felt fully rested, even though they had only logged a few hours of sleep. This means that researchers were able to identify very specific sleep patterns that contribute to instances of drowsy driving and possible traffic accidents.
Further research is indeed needed to identify ways to prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel when they are tired, but this study is an important first step. Unfortunately, those who are too tired to drive safely cause accidents that injure not only themselves, but also others on the road. Developing strategies to prevent people from driving while drowsy is key to increasing overall highway safety across the U.S.
Article provided by Eisenberg Gilchrist & Cutt
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