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Drowsy driving: the new epidemic to hit Florida roads

When it comes to the causes of fatal car crashes, you may automatically think about cell phone use, getting cut off, distractions, road hazards or alcohol consumption.

Yet one of the major causes of serious vehicle crashes last year was drowsy driving. In other words, drivers either fell asleep at the wheel and woke up when it was too late or simply had slow reaction times because they were so tired.

Fatigued driving is more common than you think. Here are some facts and figures from the National Sleep Foundation that may surprise you about the people most at risk:

  • Adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are at the greatest risk of drowsy driving, particularly if they are male, shift workers or parents.
  • In several European countries, drowsy driving incidents are responsible for a full 30 percent of all vehicle crashes.
  • People that get less than eight hours of sleep per night are more prone to drowsy driving crashes.
  • Approximately 25 percent of people driving to work in the morning are drowsy drivers.
  • Commercial drivers and those with sleep apnea issues are also at high risk for causing accidents.

Lack Of Sleep Is Comparable To Driving Drunk

The best way to compare drowsy drivers to rested drivers is by using alcohol as a guide. If you drive when you haven't slept in 18 hours, it is like having a blood alcohol content of .05 percent. If you haven't slept in 24 hours and you are driving, it is as if you have a blood alcohol content of .10 percent.

This comparison holds more weight when you understand that just like alcohol inebriation, drowsy driving compromises your lack of judgment, your overall alertness, your attention span, your reaction time and your decision making. All of these factors makes drowsy driving a potentially deadly problem.

Prevention Is Always The Key

Granted, there are always going to be times when you'll have to drive during conditions that are not ideal, but you can limit drowsy driving by following advice from the CDC:

  • Get enough sleep. That may seem obvious, but if you have a sleeping schedule that allows you to get a solid seven or eight hours of sleep per night, your chances of driving drowsy are minimized.
  • Any sleep disorder should be checked out by a physician. Sleep disorders that go unchecked raise the chance of drowsy driving exponentially.
  • Avoid medications, alcohol, nighttime cold remedies or any other substance that has the potential to relax you while on the road.

If you were harmed in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, know that you do have legal rights. To fully understand and exercise those rights, talk with a personal injury lawyer today.

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