Posted on Sep 12, 2016 1:08pm PDT

Most people are aware that drunk driving is a huge threat to traffic safety, but did you know that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous? According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, driving after being awake for 24 hours is equal in impairment to a blood alcohol concentration of .10%, which exceeds the legal limit. Drowsy driving is believed to cause more than 100,000 crashes each year, resulting in tens of thousands of preventable injuries and deaths. In fact, AAA reports that almost 40 percent of drivers have admitted to falling asleep while driving at least once, but shockingly, only twenty percent of drivers stated that they would pull over to nap if they felt themselves getting sleepy.

Drowsy driving is a huge public safety concern because it can happen to anyone – from long-haul truck drivers and road trippers to overly tired commuters, shift workers, and parents. In an instant, a driver can nod off behind the wheel without even realizing it. You can reduce your chances of an accident by taking the following actions to combat drowsy driving:

  1. Get enough sleep. It is important to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep before a car trip, or six hours at the very least before driving a shorter distance. While this may be easier said than done, if you don’t get enough sleep, try to limit the time you will spend on the road.
  2. Know the signs of fatigue. Drowsiness can hit you all at once or gradually sneak up on you. It is a good idea to be aware of the signs of fatigue so that you know when it’s time to pull over. These include difficulty focusing, yawning, stiffness, wandering thoughts, or not remembering driving down a stretch of road.
  3. Avoid things that could make you sleepy. If you’re going on a car trip, avoid eating a heavy meal or relaxing too much while you are driving, as you could become sleepy. You should also avoid reclining your seat or using cruise control during times that you know you may become tired.
  4. Drive with a passenger. Avoid going on long car trips by yourself if possible. Not only can conversation with a passenger keep you alert, but your passenger can also pitch in and take over driving duty when you need a break.
  5. Take rest breaks. Every two to three hours, pull over and take a break so that you can grab a snack, use the bathroom, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air. Regular rest breaks will help prevent fatigue.

Drowsy drivers who cause car accidents may be held legally responsible for compensating victims for their losses. To learn more about your rights as a victim of a car crash, contact a Northern California personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Larry S. Buckley. We stand ready to launch an investigation of your case to determine who was responsible and what types of damages you may be entitled to.

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