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The three Ds of holiday driving: drunk, distracted and drowsy

It has been a long, interesting 2017, to say the least, and the year is starting to draw to a close. The holiday season is ready to kick off with Thanksgiving and turkey. Before you start visiting family and friends around Charlotte, please be aware that this is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.

Law enforcement officials warn us of the three Ds of holiday driving: distracted, drunken and drowsy drivers. As usual, there will be extra police patrols rolling around the city and nearby areas to try to prevent traffic crashes that cause injuries and fatalities.

A recent news article reminded readers of a 2014 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. It estimated that drowsy drivers are in more than 300,000 U.S. traffic accidents per year, with more than 6,000 of the crashes involving fatalities.

But even those jaw-dropping numbers might be low, researchers said, because accident data collected by police is often incomplete.

The main cause of drowsy driving is sleep deprivation. Fatigued and drowsy drivers have impaired judgment and slowed reactions -- similar to detrimental characteristics of drunk drivers.

According to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 60 percent of drivers admit that they have driven while drowsy. About one third admit that they have even fallen asleep while they were behind the wheel.

Please keep the holidays safe. Drive carefully and alertly, keeping watch for drivers in all three of the dangerous Ds: drowsy, drunk or distracted.

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