Alarming number of drivers fall asleep behind the wheel

By: Kayla Bremer

A recent study shows a staggering amount of Americans are admitting to falling asleep while they're behind the wheel.

The study shows it's happening a lot more than you would think.  One in 24 Americans say they've recently fallen asleep while driving.

A video shows a woman, clearly asleep at the wheel while driving down the freeway in Denver.  The car behind her captured video on their cell phone of her car swerving from lane to lane before the woman finally woke up and pulled over.

What happened to this woman, happens to thousands of people every day.

A new study from CDC found that 4.2 percent of the 147 thousand people interviewed said they've fallen asleep at least once while driving in the previous month.

More than 60 thousand accidents are caused by drowsy driving every year.

“Didn't have anyone to drive with me and there was really no to stop and so I kind of just had to keep going,” Ravi Mahapatra said, a Lincoln man who says he's fallen asleep while driving.  “That was one of those where I'm kind of rubbing my face and trying to open the windows and doing anything to wake myself up.”

Mahapatra says he's fallen asleep behind the wheel more than once and some of the times, he didn't even realize it.

“My mom called me on the phone and was like 'Why are you swerving?' and I realized I was falling asleep and it was for a split second…I didn't even know I was falling asleep.”

Experts call this “microsleep.”  They say the actual number of people who've dozed off while driving is probably a lot higher because many people don't know they nod off for a second or two.

“It's very easy to just close your eyes or put your head down,” Mahapatra said. “Especially at stop lights and things like that.”

The study shows that drowsy driving is more common in men and in people from ages 25 to 34.