WASHINGTON (WJZ)–The National Transportation Safety Board wants sleepy drivers off the road. The board held a day-long forum called “Awake. Alert. Alive.”

Marcus Washington reports the NTSB campaign focuses on the dangers of drowsy driving.

Many advocates say it is difficult to determine how many accidents are caused by drowsy driving, but they are adamant that it can be just as deadly as driving drunk.

It’s often said while driving on the road you are driving for yourself and the other vehicles around you.

“You’re constantly on the defensive,” said Marlene Frank, of Florida.

For Frank and her husband, if someone is tired they take breaks as they move from Florida to Rhode Island.

“A 10-minute break and calculate how many miles you’re actually missing in driving, it’s not worth it to not stop,” Frank said.

Driving while drowsy was the topic of discussion in Washington, D.C. as the NTSB held a forum on the issue.

Mark Rosekind is an NTSB board member.

“It doesn’t matter the circumstance, if you are not getting enough sleep, that’s going to make you potentially dangerous on the road,” said Rosekind, NTSB.

According to AAA, each year there are 400,000 reported accidents caused by drowsy drivers; 100,000 of those caused injuries, 500 end with a death.

“Impaired driving probably covers alcohol and drugs, distraction and drowsy or fatigue driving as well, and that’s the problem,” Rosekind said.

There are tests to determine if a person has been driving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, but many question how do you truly determine if a person was driving while drowsy?

“The next time I woke up, I was half off the road and half on the road, so I jerked the wheel to one side to get back on the highway and that sent me into a roll,” said Alex Noel, drowsy driver.

Noel’s drive home sleepy from a dance left him temporarily paralyzed on his left side with a concussion and bruised lungs.

“It should have killed me. I was extremely lucky,” Noel said.

This is the very reason why many say if you are tired, take time to rest before getting behind the wheel.

“You just have to be alert,” Frank said.

Because it’s so hard to determine if an accident is caused by drowsy driving, AAA says they think that figure is more around 1 million accident a year.

NTSB says that getting just two hours less of  the recommended eight hours of sleep is enough to impair your driving.

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