CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A family of five was rushed to a North Carolina hospital Thursday because a driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Now, experts are warning about the prevalence of so-called “drowsy driving.”
“This is something that’s preventable,” said Dr. Jason Peck, founder of the Center of Integrative Sleep Medicine in Charlotte. “It’s something that, unfortunately, happens all too often.”
New research shows drowsy driving may be contributing to 1.2 million collisions and 8000 fatalities every year.
Data also shows that 60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, (37% or 103 million people), have actually fallen asleep at the wheel.
“It's very prevalent because we’re a very busy society we’re a 24/7 society,” Dr. Peck said. “People just aren't getting enough sleep.”
“We have too many things that are distracting us and keeping us from getting the sleep that we need,” Dr. Peck said.
Something to think about, the next time your eyelids start to feel heavy.
“You need to recognize, 'wow I could be driving as impaired as if I was under the influence of alcohol.'”
If you are feeling drowsy at the wheel, experts say the best thing to do is pull over, take a 15-20 minute nap, then get out of the car and walk around before you get back in. Caffeine also helps. Of course, the best thing to do is just get off the road until you can rest.