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Drowsiness as Big a Problem as Drunkenness in Causing Highway Accidents


January 1995

Sleep researchers say that driver drowsiness accounts for as many highway accidents as drunkenness ("Study: Drowsy Drivers Rival Drunks as Cause of Accidents," Oakland Tribune, Dec. 8, 1994, p. A1).

Studies show that as many as one in 20 Americans has fallen asleep at the wheel. Drowsiness accounts for 30 percent of fatal crashes, one study says, equalling the number of fatal crashes blamed on alcohol intoxication.

Dr. Thomas Roth of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit says that the "American lifestyle" causes drivers to not allow enough time for sleep.

Other studies presented at a Washington conference on drowsiness and driving show that drowsiness was a factor in 82 percent of accidents. 50 percent of truck drivers polled said that they had fallen asleep at least once while driving.