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Watch the passing headlights … you’re getting sleepy, sleepy …

Thanksgiving is just a little more than a week away. This is the time of year that people drive to a family member’s house, eat a large meal, socialize and drive home. Even if you don’t spend the day playing touch football or hours-long games of Risk and even if you just loll on the couch and watch the Puppy Bowl, Thanksgiving can be exhausting.

It could be the turkey. It could be an overdose of family. Either way, going home at the end of the day can be tricky. People are tired, and that is no condition to be in if they are getting behind the wheel of a car. As the California Highway Patrol reminds us, driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have the data to back up the claim. Staying awake for 18 hours will have the same cognitive effect on a person as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent. After another six hours with no sleep, the level of impairment doubles: 24 hours awake has the same effect as a 0.10 BAC. Add alcohol to the lack of sleep, and the impairment is even greater.

Drowsy driving was linked to more than 3,900 motor vehicle accidents in California during 2012. Those accidents claimed 36 lives and resulted in injuries for more than 2,100 people. Nationally, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, at least one out of five fatal traffic accidents involves a drowsy driver.

So wait a while after eating that Thanksgiving meal, or drive with a chatty passenger. If you find your attention wandering or have trouble keeping your eyes open, pull over at a rest stop. Just like a drunk driver, a drowsy driver puts more than himself at risk.

Sources:

Lake County News, “Motorists reminded that drowsy and driving do not mix,” Nov. 3, 2014

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Study: Drowsy driving more of a threat than previously believed,” Nov. 8, 2014

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