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Studies show dangers of driving while tired

The results of a new study should put many Illinois drivers on their toes, especially during the later hours. According to researchers, drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, a habit that is illegal due to the increased risk of a motor vehicle accident.

The research was published in Archives of Internal Medicine, a medical journal. It examined 679 people who were hospitalized because of an automobile accident between 2007 and 2009. The study found that men and younger adults were more likely to drive while sleepy. In the study, researchers wrote that the responsibility of a crash resulting in serious injury was often associated with individuals that were younger in age.

Higher rates of responsibility were found in those drivers that had either ingested alcohol or were driving while tired. According to the study, both of these factors doubled the risk of causing an accident.

The study was conducted in France, but that does not mean that drowsy driving only occurs in Europe. In fact, a poll conducted by the AAA Foundation found that one in three people said they had driven while tired in the preceding 30-day period.

Other research has pointed to the serious consequences that are more likely to arise when driving while tired. In 2000, researchers in Australia determined that doing so can seriously alter your judgment, coordination and reaction time. Earlier last year, a study from the Netherlands showed that people who drove for two hours at night had similar risks to those that were driving while buzzed. After three hours of driving at night, researchers reported that risks were akin to those for drunk drivers.

A physician with Northshore Sleep Medicine in Illinois believes that education on the dangers of driving while drowsy is an important step towards prevention. She added that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 of the countless crashes that are reported to the police each year are caused by drivers that were drowsy.

Source: Huffington Post, "Drowsy Driving Just As Dangerous As Drunk Driving: Study," May 31, 2012

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