WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Many Texomans know the frightening feeling of nodding off - just for a second while driving. t's called Drowsy Driving or micro-sleeping and it can be deadly.
It its estimated 100 thousand police reported crashes a year in the U.S. are the result of driver fatigue. Those crashes result in over 1500 deaths and 70-thousand injuries.
Experts say it's time for people to wake up to the dangers of Drowsy Driving. While it doesn't get as much attention as drunk or distracted driving -- it can be just as deadly.
Drowsy Driving is driving while sleepy or fatigued. Experts say chronic lack of sleep slows down the mind and reaction time. They say this is a common problem especially among truck drivers, shift workers, teens and young adults like Olivia.
"I did fall asleep one time when me and my mom were studying and driving down the road. I was driving and she was reading to me and I fell asleep."
Luckily for Olivia and her mother there were rumble strips on the side of the road. Over 1500 Americans each year don't wake up in time to avoid a fatal accident.
"Right now in Texas about 3500 people a year die every year on Texas roads and highways and drowsy driving is just one of the factors that kills people."
A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed 1 in 25 adult drivers reported falling asleep while driving in the 30 days before they were questioned.
The Texas Department of Transportation says tired Texomans should pullover and rest and refresh at one of their many safety rest areas.
"We have spent a lot of money improving our safety rest areas. They are super centers, they are beautiful. People really need to take advantage of those rest areas and those rest stops that we have along the way. As well as our travel information centers. Get out - walk around - take a nap in your car. That's what they are there for."
Some drivers, like Kay Harris, say they have their own ways of keeping awake when driving.
"I turn the radio up very loudly. Roll down the window. If I have a passenger with me we keep talking to each other and brainstorming about things to keep our minds active."
She also says she'll look for a stop like the travel center to refuel with some coffee. The first line of defense is, of course, to get enough rest. The average person needs about 7 to 9 hours a night. Most importantly, if you do feel drowsy - don't drive.
"It's quick - it's easy. Pull off the side of the road. Get it done. Save your life."