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6.1 percent of surveyed Texans report falling asleep behind wheel

A significant percentage of fatal wrecks may be caused by drowsy driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In fact, the CDC estimates 15-33 percent of all fatal wrecks may be caused from falling asleep behind the wheel.

And based on a telephone survey conducted by the state health department and the CDC, 6.1 percent of surveyed Texans report drowsy driving, which was defined for purposes of the survey as nodding off or falling asleep, even for a brief moment.

Those reporting higher rates of drowsy driving get less than six hours of sleep, on average, as well as report snoring, which could mean trouble with sleep apnea. As we wrote earlier, sleep apnea is a medical condition that can affect overweight truck drivers, which in turn may lead to truck accidents.

The CDC makes clear those drivers who don't actually nod off or fall asleep, yet who are nonetheless drowsy or fatigued, still pose a risk to others on the road: "Drowsiness slows reaction time, makes drivers less attentive, and impairs decision-making skills, all of which can contribute to motor vehicle crashes."

That's why it's important for truck drivers to obey (and employers to enforce) the hours-of-service regulations, which prescribe the number of hours a truck driver can work between periods of rest.

Source: Drowsy Driving - 19 States and the District of Columbia, 2009-2010

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