Growing Problem of Drowsy Drivers

Not getting enough sleep can have deadly consequences, especially if you get behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows 100,000 accidents are caused every year, 1,500 of them fatal, by drivers who fall asleep.

Last December, Terry Marks of Rocky Mount was hit by a drowsy driver, sending him to the hospital and killing the driver of another car. Marks says people need to know how serious it can be if you get behind the wheel and aren't rested.

A Sleep Foundation poll finds 62 percent of adults admit driving while drowsy, and 27 percent admit falling asleep at the wheel. So why can't we stay awake?

Dr. Daniel Lee, director of the Pitt County Memorial Hospital says busier lifestyles, among other things, mean most people only average about six-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. Most healthy adults should get eight hours a night. Dr. Lee says studies show losing even one hour of sleep a night can reduce your alertness by 32 percent.

To combat drowsy driving make sure to get sufficient sleep, don't drink alcohol, limit driving between midnight and 6 a.m., and if you become sleepy, stop driving.