SLEEP DEPRIVATION CARRIES RISKS SIMILAR TO DRUNKEN DRIVING’S
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving is a factor in over 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in at least 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries. Darrel Drobnich, chief program officer of the National Sleep Foundation, estimates that the figures are considerably higher: 5,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries a year. Efforts are underway to make people more aware of the problem, which, unlike drunk driving, cannot be easily tested. Carol Ash, medical director of a sleep program at Somerset Medical Center, said, “Years ago, we didn’t think anything of getting in a car after having a few drinks. Sleep deprivation has the same impact. Your judgment becomes impaired, whether you realize it or not. We’re starting to understand that drowsy driving is the same as driving intoxicated.” According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 54 percent of adult drivers said they had driven while drowsy and 28 percent said they had fallen asleep at the wheel during the past year.
Larry Copeland. USA Today. 2009/04/02. Page A3.