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How drowsy driving leads to accidents

By now, most people are fully aware of the dangers of drunk driving. It is a lesser-known fact that driving under the influence of sleep-deprivation can result in many of the same symptoms, leading to an increased risk of accidents, causing as many as 100,000 per year. Drivers who are falling asleep at the wheel may not even notice that their level of tiredness is impairing the way they drive.

Warning signs

It is especially important to be on the alert if you know you have gotten less sleep than you usually need or if you are suffering from a condition that affects the quality of your sleep. Warning signs of drowsiness can include frequent yawning, a heavy feeling in your head or eyelids and loss of focus. If you catch yourself experiencing these symptoms on the road, it is safer to pull over as soon as possible.

Effects of drowsiness

In extreme cases, drowsiness can cause a driver to fall asleep completely, allowing the car to spin out of control. In less extreme situations, lack of sleep can produce an inability to focus on the road, delayed reaction times and impaired judgment. A sleepy driver is less likely to be able to avoid an accident due to an object in the road, bad weather conditions or erratic driving by another driver on the road.

Causes

Drowsy driving is particularly common for drivers of large trucks, but it is by no means exclusive to them. In addition to simply sleeping less hours than needed, drowsiness can have several causes. A particularly insidious one is sleep apnea, which severely decreases sleep quality and can actually cause sufferers to fall asleep in the middle of the day. Conditions such as depression can also increase the severity of sleepiness and fatigue. Drivers who take medications should also be vigilant about potential side effects.

Avoiding drowsy drivers

In the interests of your own safety, it is also important to be alert to signs of drowsy driving by others. A vehicle that is beginning to drift out of its lane, abruptly changes speed or shows other signs of a driver having trouble focusing is a danger to other drivers. Depending on traffic conditions, however, it may not always be possible to keep a sufficient distance.

If you were the victim of a drowsy driving accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and property damage. Contact an experienced lawyer in your area to learn more about your options based on the facts of your case.

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