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One-third of California drivers admit to driving drowsy

Perhaps it's the tryptophan, maybe it's a boring football game, or maybe it's the leisure of a day off from work, but Thanksgiving is a perfect day for taking a long, restful nap. However, for those of us who travel to and from one or many holiday celebrations, that down-time may not be in the cards. As a result, Thanksgiving is a prime day for auto accidents caused by drowsy driving.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately one-third of drivers admitted to driving while they were "so sleepy [they] had a hard time keeping [their] eyes open," during the previous month. Further, two out of five drivers surveyed stated that they had actually fallen asleep behind the wheel.

As a result, AAA reports, one out of every six traffic fatalities and one out of every eight car accidents involves a drowsy driver.

Many drivers are unaware that drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving in many ways. Sleepy drivers have a slower reaction time, impaired judgment, and lowered levels of awareness, much like drunk drivers. This is why drowsy driving so commonly results in a car accident, injuries, or even fatalities.

However, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from a drowsy driving accident this Thanksgiving. First, consider spending the night after your Thanksgiving celebration. If you are unable to do so, drive at times when you are normally awake, and avoid traveling late at night. Second, travel with a passenger who can stay awake and make sure you are doing the same. And finally, pull over if you start feeling tired, and give the wheel to someone else.

Source: Maricopa Monitor, "Arizona view: A wake-up call," Linda Gorman, Nov. 12, 2011

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