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Don’t drive drowsy

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 3:17 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 3:38 p.m. CDT

Area officials confirm drowsy driving can be a problem, but a hard one to determine.

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 24 adult drivers in the United States admit to falling asleep while driving.

The CDC report states the percentage of adults driving in a drowsy state could be even higher because many people do not notice when they nod off for a few seconds while driving. The report was based on a questionnaire distributed in 2009-10, with 147,076 respondents in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the CDC report, sleep-related vehicle crashes normally take place at night or mid-afternoon and most often involve one car going off of the road. Drowsy driving crashes are more likely to end in death or injury than non-drowsy driving crashes.

Bureau County Coroner Janice Wamhoff said it’s nearly impossible to determine if someone was sleeping at the time of fatal crash unless there is an eye witness involved. However, drowsy driving is something everyone needs to watch out for in their own driving.

Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson agreed, saying it’s typically difficult to determine if an accident, whether a fatality or not, has been caused by a drowsy driver.

Thompson said he’s aware some prescription drugs can cause drowsiness, which could be a factor in some cases. People should be aware of any side effects of any medication they are taking and follow their doctor’s advise. If they feel tired, they need more sleep, the sheriff said.

Also, a lot of people in the Bureau County area have to travel quite a distance for their jobs, which can sometimes cause drowsiness, Thompson said, adding people need to make sure they get enough sleep to operate their vehicles safely.

According to the CDC report, those people who are at higher risks for drowsy driving are commercial drivers, people who work night or long shifts, drivers who use sleep medications, those who get inadequate sleep, and drivers with undiagnosed sleep disorders.

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