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Drowsy driving statistics soar

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. One in three people admits to driving while drowsy, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“They say it’s just as dangerous as driving intoxicated,” Nebraska State Patrol Capt. Jeromy McCoy said. “Your impairment can be just as much as if you had a number of alcoholic drinks.”

While some people have their methods of staying alert behind the wheel, a local pharmacist said she wouldn’t encourage people to rely on caffeine pills.

“Eventually, you just become insensitive to them,” pharmacist, Shawn Herbek, said. “A lot of people, like they used to drink a cup of coffee in the morning to wake themselves up, sometimes that cup of coffee doesn’t work as well so then they have to go to two. The same thing happens with the over-the-counter stuff. They probably just won’t do much for you because you’ve become insensitive to the caffeine.”

The NHTSA states drowsy driving impairs “reaction time,ability to think of two things at once, and memory of where you’re going.”

That combination caused a reported 72,000 crashes nationwide in 2015 leading to 410,000 injuries and 800 deaths, according to newly released data.

Around the Tri-Cities, NSP said there are more instances of it on the interstate.

“The roadway doesn’t change much going through Central Nebraska, it’s pretty flat and I think that does lead to some accidents here,” McCoy added.

The NHTSA wants to fight those odds with its new campaign based on prevention, including getting enough sleep, turning on the air conditioning or roll down a window, and turn up the radio.

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