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The danger of driving while drowsy

Fatigue can triple the risk for a car crash, yet many people in Missouri and across the U.S. continue to get behind the wheel drowsy. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that there are 328,000 crashes every year due to drowsy driving.

Drowsiness is dangerous because it impairs one’s ability to pay attention, make correct judgments and react in time to any hazards. When it becomes especially severe, drowsiness causes one to black out for four to five seconds. During one of these “microsleep” episodes, a driver on the highway could travel the length of a football field completely unaware.

Drivers should know the symptoms of drowsiness, which range from yawning and “nodding off” to difficulty in keeping to the same lane and remembering the last few miles. On long trips, drivers should seriously consider pulling over for a short nap when these symptoms arise.

For long-term safety, adult drivers should try to achieve the recommended seven hours of sleep a night. Teens require more. Another thing that drivers could do is install lane departure warning, drowsiness alert and other crash avoidance tech on their vehicle. Others can do their part; for instance, universities and employers can both set up programs to encourage safer driving. Parents could include a rule on drowsiness in their teen driving agreement.

When motor vehicle accidents are clearly the result of drowsy driving, those who were injured may have grounds for a personal injury case. If their case is successful, they could be reimbursed for past and future medical expenses, lost income, a diminished capacity to earn a living, pain and suffering and more. They may want a lawyer to prepare the case with the necessary proof and handle all negotiations while they focus on their physical and emotional recovery.