Drowsy driving is as bad as drunk driving, AAA says - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Drowsy driving is as bad as drunk driving, AAA says

The AAA says 1 in 3 Americans admit to driving drowsy.  (Source: WOIO) The AAA says 1 in 3 Americans admit to driving drowsy. (Source: WOIO)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

"All it takes is a second, and you just nod off."

That is what Karen Roberts remembers about falling asleep behind the wheel in 1988. At the time, she was a 21-year-old nurse working a double shift on Christmas night. She smashed into another vehicle on the way home. The other driver walked away with minor injuries, but she was in the hospital for two months with a traumatic brain injury. Roberts spent a lot of time re-learning how to walk, talk, feed and dress herself.

Roberts' story is not an uncommon one. A new AAA study says nearly one in three Americans admit to driving when they have a hard time keeping their eyes open. According to the AAA director, driving on four or five hours of sleep is the same as driving legally drunk.

The study says that 16 to 21 percent of all fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. Drivers who slept for only 4 to 5 hours had 4.3 times the crash rate of drivers who slept for at least seven hours, and drivers who slept for less than four hours had 11 times the crash rate, a risk comparable to driving with a BAC of roughly 0.12 to 0.15. 

Roberts cries when she shares her story.

"That's why I'm here today, and I want to share my story, so that you guys can learn from my mistake," she says.

Roberts still suffers from double vision and headaches, but considers herself lucky because her mistake could have been deadly.

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