COMMERCE CITY – Local truck driving instructors say drowsiness can give drivers the same impairment as alcohol.
"You're wasted," said Mike White, an instructor at CDL College in Commerce City. "It's like sitting at a bar all day."
Over the weekend, police say a truck driver in New Jersey hit a vehicle, killing one man and seriously injuring actor Tracy Morgan. A criminal complaint filed against the driver said he had been awake for 24 hours at the time of the crash.
White drove trucks for 15 years before becoming an instructor, and said he has felt fatigue behind the wheel.
"Your body just starts to shut down, because you're not doing something," White said. "A couple of times, it felt like I was bouncing my head off the steering wheel and almost rear ended a guy out on the freeway."
An Australian study found drivers who hadn't slept in 24 hours suffered impairment equal to a blood alcohol level of 0.1, above the legal limit.
It is tough to tell how many accidents are caused by drowsy drivers each year, since there is really no tool to determine it. The National Sleep Foundation estimates more than 100,000 crashes are caused by fatigue each year, leading to more than 1,500 deaths.
Commercial drivers were among those the NSF said were at risk for fatigued driving. But a poll from the organization found 60 percent of all drivers admitted to getting behind the wheel without enough sleep.
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