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Research: Tired drivers are just as dangerous as drunken drivers

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — If you’re out on the roads, you need to wake up! Driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“You’ll close your eyes,” Houston driver John Collins said. “And you’ll wake up like, ‘OHHH!’ And you’ll kinda go off the side of the road.”

The American Automobile Association said nearly a third of drivers they surveyed had experienced drowsy driving in the last month.

Lt. Craig Cummings with the Texas Department of Public Safety said it’s not all that uncommon.

“I had stopped an individual on the side of the road, thinking he was intoxicated. When I started talking to him, I realized he was driving from Minnesota and had been driving for about 18 to 20 hours straight and was just about to fall out right there while I was talking to him,” Cumming said. “When someone is drowsy like that, it can take on a lot of the same factors as someone who’s intoxicated.”

Research found after being up for 21 hours, you’ll probably drive like someone who’s legally drunk: weaving in your lane, unable to control your speed and even blowing past stop signs because you just don’t see them.

Collins said he experienced this while driving out to Odessa to see his auntie.

“I felt myself kind of getting a little sleepy,” Collins said. “And before you know it, my car had literally turned around. I had turned around to the other side of the traffic. Luckily, no one was coming that way and that put a real scare in me, so I said, ‘I’m stopping right now, and I’m gonna get a little rest.'”

That’s what you should do. First, stop and get a coffee or soda to wake you up. But if you’re too tired for that, Cummings said find yourself a safe place to pull over off the roadway, lock the doors, keep the lights on and get yourself a little bit of sleep right there.

“It’s far easier to do that than to risk driving off the highway and potentially hurting yourself or somebody else,” Cumming  said.