Falling asleep while driving: More common than you think

Asleep behind the wheel, the car drifting into another lane and hitting another car. Drivers so drowsy they can't keep their eyes open.

It’s dangerous and may be a lot more common than you think.

Nearly one out of every three drivers on the road is dangerously drowsy, according to a survey by the AAA Foundation, even though almost every single driver questioned said driving like this is unacceptable.

Robin Belle is an in-home nurse and drives as many as 600 miles a week. She admits she's been a drowsy driver.

“If I find myself getting sleepy, I roll down the windows, chew gum, sing along with the radio,” she says.

Drivers 24 and younger as twice as likely to drive drowsy as middle aged drivers. And two-thirds of the drowsy drivers are men.

“It concerns me, yes,” says Manassas resident Howard Robinson. “I'm sure it happens. The way work is today, I've maybe been there a couple times too.”

Warning signs of sleepiness include, but are not limited to:

-Having difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused, having heavy eyelids
-Difficulty keeping your head up
-Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating, and/or hitting rumble strips
-Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven
-Missing traffic signs or driving past your intended exit
-Yawning repeatedly and rubbing your eyes
-Feeling irritable or restless

To remain alert and prevent a crash, AAA offers these tips:
-Get plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) the night before a long trip
-Stop driving if you become sleepy; fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment and vision, causing people who are very sleepy to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk
-Travel at times when you are normally awake, and stay overnight rather than driving straight through
-Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
-Drink a caffeinated beverage. Since it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream, find a safe place to take a 20-30 minute nap

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