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Is drowsy driving dangerous, and why?

Drowsy driving is a serious problem in the United States for a number of reasons. First, it is usually a result of poor sleep, which means the driver is at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Second, it's a distraction. Drowsy driving is sometimes combined with distracting behavior, like talking on the phone or texting friends. If you take medications that cause drowsiness and don't get enough sleep, it puts you at a higher risk of falling asleep behind the wheel as well.

Although falling asleep behind the wheel is clearly a dangerous act, drowsy driving is as well. It makes it hard to pay attention to the road, slows down reaction times and makes it hard to adjust to changing road conditions. It also makes it difficult to make good driving decisions, since you may not see or recognize signs of dangers or hazards that are approaching.

Some people struggle with driving drowsy due to sleep disorders. It's been estimated that around 70 million people in America struggle with a sleep disorder of some type. Fortunately, many of these conditions can be treated. Those who believe that they have problems sleeping should consider seeing a specialist to have a sleep study performed.

It's easy to tell if you or someone you know is getting drowsy. Yawning is a sign, as is being unable to recall what happened during the last few miles. If you drift into another lane or hit a rumble strip, you may be too drowsy to drive safely. Consider pulling over to rest, grab a coffee or catch some shut eye. If you're the victim of a drowsy driver, know that they had every opportunity to pull over and stop. You have a right to pursue a claim.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel," accessed March 09, 2017

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