wsdot_traffic_seattle.jpg
The CDC's Ann Wheaton says the number of sleeping drivers is probably higher because many drivers don't realize when they're nodding off for a second or two. (WSDOT Photo)

Drowsy driving increases, 1 in 24 have fallen asleep at the wheel

Falling asleep behind the wheel may happen more often than you think.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drowsy driving is a growing problem. One in 24 drivers reported they had dozed off while driving in the last month.

The CDC's Ann Wheaton says the number is probably higher because many drivers don't realize when they're nodding off for a second or two.

Even if you don't fall asleep, Wheaton says driving drowsy is like driving drunk.

"The prevalence of people actually driving while impaired by being sleepy, is going to be a bit higher," Wheaton tells CBS. "Sometimes people will fall asleep for just a moment and not realize they had fallen asleep."

The research found that men were more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel and the problem is more prevalent among drivers between the ages of 25 and 34.

More and more, Wheaton says, people are burning both ends of the stick and are getting less than six hours of sleep.

"Some previous studies have shown that being awake for 24 hours, is comparable to blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent, which is above the legal limit in all states."

The state with the most drivers nodding off is Texas; Oregon had the fewest.

The AAA Foundation estimates that tired drivers were responsible for one in six fatal crashes, and one in eight accidents that sent someone to the hospital. In more than half the accidents, sleepy drivers drifted into another lane or off the road entirely.

Warning signs you're driving drowsy? Not remembering the last mile or two, or drifting onto rumble strips on the side of the road. Even if you nod off for a second or two, that could be extremely dangerous at 60 miles an hour one second translates to speeding along for 88 feet, the length of two school buses.


Ursula Reutin, KIRO Radio News Anchor & Reporter
Ursula loves to laugh and she does it with gusto. She brightens the day for everyone around her with her kindness, thoughtfulness and fun-loving nature.
Top Stories

  • Moving Nightmare
    The Owens have spent two years trying to get their belongings back from a moving company

  • Graffiti in Seattle
    Vandalism at Seattle's Gas Works Park underscores an ongoing battle with police and taggers
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.