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Research: Drowsy drivers contribute up to 8,000 fatalities per year

NBC News Channel
March 20, 2017 10:20 AM

Research: Drowsy drivers contribute up to 8,000 fatalities per year

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NBC News takes a look at a dangerous and growing problem on the road as you head to work this morning: People who are so sleepy, the last place they should be is behind the wheel.

In 2014, a city bus in Boise Idaho plowed into a building after, authorities say, the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

No one was seriously hurt but recent research shows drowsy driving is contributing to as many as 1,200,000 collisions and up to 8,000 fatalities per year.

"Sleepiness has an effect of having you not know how sleepy you are," said Dr. Kingman Strohl of the Sleep Center and Cleveland Medical. 

Dr. Strohl will be among those paying attention to a conference in San Diego, California Monday where the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will unveil a new nationwide plan to prevent drowsy driving. 

"It's akin to an impairment like drinking, in which you may not think you're impaired but you are, and it can come on really without much warning at all," Dr. Strohl said. 

NHTSA's plan will emphasize obvious warning signs that you may be too tired to drive.

And hammer home the message that sleep is the only remedy for drowsy driving even if just a nap on a safe spot on the side of road.

Safety experts say rolling down the window, turning up the radio or air conditioning, or drinking coffee is not enough to stave off drowsiness.

They say if you find yourself at that point you should pull off and take a nap.

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NBC News Channel

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