THURSDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News)  The prevalence of drowsy driving is about 4% across 19 states and the District of Columbia, and correlates with other sleep-related characteristics, according to a study published in the Jan. 4 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Anne G. Wheaton, PhD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System during 20092010 to assess the state-level self-reported prevalence of falling asleep while driving.

The authors report that, across 19 states and the District of Columbia, 4.2% of the 147,076 respondents reported having fallen asleep while driving at least once in the previous 30 days. Falling asleep while driving was more likely among men than women (5.3% vs. 3.2%), and was less likely among non-Hispanic whites than other racial/ethnic groups. Falling asleep while driving was seen more frequently in adults who reported ≤6 hours of sleep per day, snoring, or falling asleep unintentionally during the day, compared to adults without these characteristics.

“Although it is clear that falling asleep while driving is dangerous, drowsiness impairs driving skills even if drivers manage to stay awake,” write the authors of an editorial note. “Drowsy driving crashes are more likely to result in injuries and fatalities than non-drowsy driving crashes.”

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