The sleep-deprived tractor-trailer driver charged in the weekend crash that killed comedian James McNair and badly injured actor Tracy Morgan and three others shed light on the perils of drowsy driving. According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, though, drowsy driving is far from uncommon.
In fact, 45 percent of Americans said they had at some point felt like they were so tired while driving that they might fall asleep at the wheel.
Drowsy driving has been implicated in Saturday's crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. Kevin Roper, the driver of the Walmart truck that plowed into Morgan's van, had gone more than 24 hours without sleep, said police, who charged him with vehicular homicide. Roper has pleaded not guilty.
In the new poll, 22 percent of Americans say they've felt drowsy while driving "often" (4 percent) or "sometimes" (18 percent) during the past year. Another 34 percent said they've done so "rarely."
Most said that when they felt drowsy, they were likely to try to do something to improve the situation. Twenty-two percent said they would ask someone else to drive (an option that is, of course, not available to anyone driving alone). Thirteen percent said they would drink coffee, and 13 percent said they would take a nap before continuing to their destination. Seven percent said they would try to get some exercise to feel more alert.
But another 13 percent of poll respondents admitted that if they felt drowsy while driving, their most likely response was to simply continue driving and try to concentrate.
That option is likely to endanger both the driver and others. A study released in 2012 found that drowsy drivers are as dangerous on the road as drunk drivers.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted June 9 to June 11 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.
The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.