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What everyone needs to know about drowsy driving

By now, most people understand why driving drunk can place them and everyone else on the road in danger. State and federal agencies have stepped up efforts to educate the public about the lesser known hazards of drowsy driving.

Researchers trying to quantify data on drowsy driving encounter several obstacles. Unlike alcohol or drugs, there is no device that can measure the level of drowsiness in a driver's body after a crash. Generally, responders on the scene who put down drowsiness as the cause of the accident do so based on the driver's own assessment.

Watching out for the signs

Not having a specific cut-off for drowsiness levels makes it all the more important for drivers to self-evaluate and refrain from driving if they feel symptoms of drowsiness. Note that extended sleep deprivation can have similar effects to those of elevated blood alcohol counts, and missing even as little as two hours of sleep can double the likelihood of a crash.

Signs of drowsiness may include headaches, difficulty concentrating and delayed reaction times. Sleep-deprived drivers may also fall asleep and lose control of their vehicles.

Recognizing risk factors

Risk factors for drowsy driving include shift work and caring for young children. Sleep apnea can contribute to drowsy driving, as sufferers often remain unaware of the extent of their sleep deprivation. If you think you got your regular eight hours yet you feel tired, a medical condition such as apnea may be at fault.

Commercial truck drivers notoriously suffer from lack of sleep. Although they must comply with regulations requiring them to take rest breaks and log them, many feel pressured to find ways around the rules. Even drivers who follow the rules may not get enough sleep or feel increased fatigue due to the irregular hours.

Doing everything right, unfortunately, does not guarantee you will never sustain a crash. A drowsy driving accident can turn your life upside-down in seconds. If that happens to you, filing a lawsuit can be an option for recovering legal compensation.

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