Drowsy driving — a real danger

 
By Lauren Edwards • Published: February 7th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Most of us know that we shouldn’t drink and drive. But driving while sleepy… or “drowsy driving”… also poses a risk that may be much more serious than you might think.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving causes around one-hundred-thousand crashes and kills more than fifteen hundred people each year.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Web site Drowsydriving.org, the effects of drowsiness are similar to those of alcohol and range from decreased awareness and slower response times to impaired judgment.

Frighteningly, the Sleep Foundation says thirty-two million drivers in the United States confess they have literally fallen asleep while driving.

Lawmakers are taking notice that drowsy driving is all too common.. “Maggie’s Law,” passed in 2003, makes those who have driven after being awake for twenty-four hours responsible for vehicular homicide. The law, enacted after twenty-year-old Maggie McDonnell was killed by a sleepy driver, has increased awareness about drowsy driving. Today, there are similar laws in New York, Kentucky, Mississippi, Illinois and Massachusetts. To prevent drowsy driving, the foundation recommends getting adequate sleep and scheduling proper breaks while traveling. If you feel yourself getting sleepy while driving, pull over, take a short nap and have a cup or two of coffee. Many of us have so much going on that sleep is often the first thing we neglect. Yet getting a good night’s sleep is not only vital to our own health, but to the safety of others as well.