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AAA: 1 In 5 Fatal Crashes Involve Drowsy Driving

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Alarming statistics about not getting enough sleep before you hit the road. AAA says 1 in 5 fatal crashes involve drowsy driving and missing even a little sleep can put you at risk of nodding off behind the wheel.

As was the case for Karen Roberts.

In 1988, Roberts was a 21-year-old nurse working a double shift on Christmas night. On the way home she dozed off and smashed into another vehicle.

The other driver had minor injuries but Roberts was in the hospital for two months with a traumatic brain injury.

"All it takes is a second, and you just nod off," said Roberts. "I had to learn again how to walk and talk and feed myself and dress myself, and everything."

A new report from AAA shows drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep a night nearly double their risk for a crash.

Jake Nelson, Director of Traffic and Safety Advocacy and Research at AAA, says nearly 1 in 3 Americans admit to driving when they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

"If we've earned only four to five hours of sleep in a night -- the odds of getting into a car crash are the same as driving legally drunk due to alcohol," Nelson explained.

"That's why I'm here today," admitted Roberts. "And I want to share my story, so that you guys can learn from my mistake."

Roberts still suffers from double vision and headaches, but considers herself lucky, because her mistake could have been deadly.

AAA says taking naps can help your risk of becoming drowsy behind the wheel. If you're on a long trip, they suggest stopping every two hours to take a break.

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