Eyes Wide Shut

"There will be sleeping enough in the grave."
-Benjamin Franklin

Question: What kills more than 1550 Americans and injures another 71,000 every year?

A. Drowning
B. Accidental discharge of firearms
C. Viral hepatitis
D. Malignant melanoma

(Answer below the fold)

Answer: "None of the above."

Drowning kills 3,529
Firearm accidents kill 649
Viral hepatitis kills 5,382
Malignant melanoma kills 7,952

The correct answer is: falling asleep behind the wheel while driving.

"Drowsy driving is big killer in U.S"

Although studies have found the condition to be nearly impossible to fight off without a caffeinated beverage or a nap, a surprising number of people are ignorant of the dangers.

"A lot of people roll down the window and turn on the radio when they get tired," said Darrel Drobnich, a spokesman for the National Sleep Foundation. "That's like saying, if I'm hungry, if I roll down the window I won't be hungry."

I think this is a serious public health issue that has been ignored by parents, educators and the media. I suspect many people have developed drowsiness while driving - I certainly have, and it is a frightening experience. Until this story appeared I had no idea what the statistics were on drowsy driving accidents.

The foundation says 60 percent of drivers have driven while drowsy in the past year, and 20 percent, or about 32 million people, admit to having actually fallen asleep behind the wheel.

This is why I believe it is time to ramp up efforts to educate drivers about the risks of traveling while sleepy, or after staying awake for 24 hours.

For those interested, Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is November 5-11. Go to this website for more information, and drive while awake!

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And this drowsy driving problem has some other major underlying cause, namely sleep apnea. This is a condition that causes people to wake up dozens of times at night (because for example of a prolapse of their throat muscles, and without knowing/remembering it the following morning). They are overtired during the day. Most of the deadly traffic accidents are caused by people suffering of sleep apnea who fell asleep while driving.

Thanks for posting this. My brother died after falling asleep behind the wheel of his car and permanently (psychologically) scarred his best friend and passenger. He was 19. Luckily, no one else was killed but I certainly wish I had been at the time.

If you are sleepy or out of it, pull over. There is no excuse not to.