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Car Accidents

Despite the fact that many California motorists may not consider drowsy driving to be nearly as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, falling asleep at the wheel results in thousands of serious and fatal car accidents every year across the country. And while state and federal road safety experts are beginning to place more emphasis on implementing and enforcing drowsy driving guidelines, the pervasiveness of the issue is believed by many to be underestimated.

Reporting on a study released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Los Angeles Times explained that California ranked third in a survey investigating negligent driver incidents involving falling asleep at the wheel. According to the CDC study, it was estimated that over 4 percent of the 147,000 people surveyed fell asleep at the wheel at least one time within the past 30 days. However, the real figure was believed to be even higher. Other studies on sleep deprivation and driving suggest that more than 30 percent of fatal car accidents can be linked to drowsy driving, even though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that falling asleep at the wheel may be attributed to more than 2 percent of fatality incidents.

While definitive figures on drowsy driving rates are lacking, there are a number of statistics relating to who is most vulnerable to falling asleep behind the wheel. According to the National Sleep Foundation, car accident incidents are twice as prevalent among motorists who sleep between six to seven hours a night versus those who sleep at least eight hours. It is also said that more than 70 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 drive when they are drowsy, while less than 20 percent of people over the age of 65 reported doing so.

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