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When drowsy driving becomes dangerous

Studies have indicated that one-third of California adults don’t sleep enough each night. It’s also typical for teens to suffer drowsiness because they require more sleep and have early school start times.

All this lack of sleep contributes to dangerous driving conditions. If you don’t always get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, read on to learn about when and how drowsy driving turns dangerous.

How common is drowsy driving?

Recent findings by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicate that the number of crashes that involve drowsiness is three times more often than police reports have concluded.

With almost 40 percent of those in the study confessing to having fallen asleep while driving before, it’s no wonder that 16.5% of fatal car crashes involve drowsy driving.

What are the effects drowsiness has on my driving?

Getting behind the wheel while drowsy has been compared to drunk driving. Individuals who operate a heavy vehicle while drowsy can have difficulty noticing traffic signals, staying in their lane, complying with the speed limit, reacting quickly and braking or swerving when necessary.

When am I too drowsy to drive?

When you are having trouble staying awake, you’re too drowsy to drive. Signs of drowsiness may include:

  • Rubbing your eyes, blinking frequently or squinting
  • Yawning frequently
  • Having thoughts that wander or are dream-like
  • Inability to cope with stress, irritability or other strong emotions
  • Lack of concentration or movement
  • Difficulty keeping your head up
  • Drifting into other lanes while driving

What can I do to wake myself up to drive?

Sleep is a biological drive that’s more powerful than caffeine, rolling down the windows, turning up the radio and other shortcut “tricks” to wake up quickly. These methods won’t work on even the most experienced, dedicated drivers if they’re feeling drowsy.

The best solutions to combat drowsy driving is to take a short 20-minute nap, call for a ride or wait until you’ve caught up on sleep to get on the road.

How can I prevent drowsy driving?

There are a number of ways you can prevent becoming drowsy before driving. Here are a few examples:

  • Get a full night’s rest (between seven and nine hours)
  • Take a nap before driving
  • Pull over to a rest stop to nap halfway through a long drive
  • Take turns behind the wheel with another driver
  • Do not operate heavy machinery after taking medication that induces drowsiness
  • Do not consume alcohol

Practicing these safety precautions will help you avoid causing an accident due to drowsiness. However, with this many drowsy drivers on the road, it’s important to stay alert to other drivers that may be more negligent. If you are hurt by a driver who fell asleep or was inattentive on the road, contact a personal injury attorney for help. A lawyer will help you seek damages to cover your injury treatment and related costs, so you can get back to where you were before the accident as soon as possible.

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