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Drowsy driving: Important points of emphasis

It's easy to understand the risks of drowsy driving, but much more difficult to prevent getting tired while at the wheel. Even if you feel alert before hopping in your car, there's always a chance fatigue will set in at some point.

Drowsy driving remains a major problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 25 drivers aged 18 or older report having fallen asleep while driving over the past 30 days.

While drowsy driving doesn't always result in a motor vehicle accident, it absolutely increases the risk.

Some people are more likely to drive drowsy

Anyone can fall asleep when driving, but it's more likely to impact certain types of people:

  • Drivers who do not get enough sleep
  • Commercial drivers, such as truckers, who are on the road for a long period of time
  • People who work the night shift
  • Anyone with a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea
  • Anyone who takes prescription medication that is known to cause drowsiness

What are the warning signs?

As a driver, you need to understand the warning signs of drowsy driving. This will help you prevent trouble before it's too late. The five most common signs include:

  • Drifting into and out of your lane
  • Blinking frequently (often accompanied by yawning)
  • Missing a turn
  • Inability to remember the past few miles
  • Hitting an object, such as a rumble strip or sign

It's possible to prevent drowsy driving

There are many ways to prevent drowsy driving. The best thing you can do is stop your vehicle if you feel too tired to drive. It will slow you from reaching your destination, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Some of the things you can do to prevent drowsy driving include:

  • Get enough sleep before driving (most people need a minimum of seven hours)
  • Stick to good sleeping habits, such as a set schedule
  • Receive treatment for a sleep disorder
  • Never take prescription medication that makes you drowsy before driving
  • Don't drink alcohol and drive

Even though you are serious about preventing drowsy driving, others may not take the same level of caution.

If a drowsy driver strikes your vehicle, move to safety and call 911. Once you find out what went wrong, you're in better position to take steps to protect your legal rights.

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John McCabe wrote "The Investigation and Analysis of Personal Injury Cases" in the best-selling book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina. This is the book that other lawyers follow in handling personal injury cases.

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Cary, NC 27511

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