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Driving While Drowsy

Nearly 41 percent of drivers say they've fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point or another, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Adam Gault/Digital Vision/Getty Images

It was a late night. Maybe you figured, "I didn't drink any alcohol, I'll be fine." But not long after getting behind the wheel, it felt as if your eyelids were anchored with five-pound weights. No matter how loudly you blasted the stereo or how many windows you rolled down, Mr. Sandman relentlessly seduced you to join him.

If that's ever happened to you and you're still here to read this, you're lucky. You're also not alone. Nearly 41 percent of drivers say they've fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point or another, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The NHTSA estimates drowsy driving in the United States causes 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths [source: NHTSA].

Of course, it's not always convenient or safe to pull over and catch a few winks. Perhaps you don't think you need or can afford a night at a hotel or motel. But considering the alternative -- death -- it seems reasonable to consider it a non-discretionary purchase.

We go from mental shutdown to sensory overload with our next distraction. Continue to the next page to see why some people can't seem to keep their eyes on the road.

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