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4 percent of drivers admit dozing

NEW YORK — One in 24 US adults say they recently fell asleep while driving.

And officials behind the study think the number is higher. That’s because some drivers don’t realize it when they nod off for a second .

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‘‘If I’m on the road, I’d be a little worried about the other drivers,’’ said the study’s lead author, Anne Wheaton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the CDC study released Thursday, about 4 percent of US adults said they nodded off or fell asleep at least once while driving in the previous month. Some earlier studies reached a similar conclusion, but the CDC telephone survey of 147,000 adults was far larger. It was conducted in 19 states and the District of Columbia in 2009 and 2010.

CDC researchers found drowsy driving was more common in men, people ages 25 to 34, those who averaged less than six hours of sleep each night, and — for some unexplained reason — Texans.

Wheaton said it’s possible the Texas survey sample included larger numbers of sleep-deprived young adults or those with sleep apnea.

The government estimates that about 3 percent of fatal crashes involve drowsy drivers. Even a moment nodding off can be dangerous, Wheaton said. At 60 miles per hour, a second translates to speeding along for 88 feet — the length of two school buses.

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