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Drowsy Drivers Causing More Wrecks

By Cyndi Lundeberg
By clundeberg@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - Driving Drunk is dangerous but many do not realize driving drowsy can be just as deadly.

A recent CDC study found 1 in 24 drivers say they have nodded off at the wheel recently. Even worse, if officials believe the number is actually much higher because many people do not even realize when they have fallen asleep.

Some West Tennessee residents said the pressures of work and stress are to blame.

One resident who did not want to provide his name said, "People are just stressed out overworked. I know myself, I work many hours sometimes your driving don't even know you're falling asleep."

A national study conducted over a six-year period found that sleeping drivers were responsible for nearly 1,300 crashes just in Tennessee.

Some residents said you while you cannot control others, you can control yourself.

"I try to be as alert as possible when I'm driving. I try to watch out for myself as well as other drivers," said Jackson resident Nicole Freeman.

One Jackson resident is not surprised by the findings. "I have gotten very close to falling asleep and I know a lot of people who say they get very tired while driving," said Kelsi McNeill.

This trend worries the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The THP said it is a very dangerous trend.

"It happens too frequently. I'm dealing with a crash right now. (It) might be the cause on the Interstate, it's not called for, it's preventable," said Lt. Brad Wilbanks of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Wilbanks suggests if drivers feel tired, to pull over and rest for 15 minutes, maybe even get out of the car and walk around.

Freeman said people can help to curb this dangerous trend. "People can just try to get a little more rest and take their medication when they know they're in for the night that'd probably help out a lot."

The Tennessee Highway patrol said the best way to keep yourself and others safe is to make sure you are well-rested before you get behind the wheel to drive.