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Recently, the National Sleep Foundation engaged in a public awareness campaign to educate drivers about sleep safety. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study clearly indicates drowsy driving is more tragic than previous estimates. The study shows that drowsy driving is involved in 16% of all deadly crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths a year, and 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents each year, costing $12.5 billion in monetary losses. Most alarming was the finding from the AAA study that younger drivers, ages 16-24, mostly males, were nearly twice as likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash as drivers 40-59. The study showed that crashes involving drowsy drivers were less likely to occur when there was a passenger in the car. It also found that 55% of drivers who reported having fallen asleep while driving did so on a high speed roadway and 26% said the sleep occurred between noon and 5 p.m.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently announced its new Awake at the Wheel campaign aimed at parents in an effort to educate them about the potential risks of drowsy driving by their teenagers and their friends. They hope that by informing parents, a conversation will start about the risks of driving fatigued. Everyone knows that driving drowsy reduces the ability to react and make decisions. Be aware of the symptoms, which include yawning, nodding off, trouble keeping your head up, closing your eyes, inability to remember the last several miles of road, drifting into another lane, getting too close to the car ahead and missing road signs.
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