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Are You at Risk for Drowsy Driving?

Posted On October 5, 2016 In Local Car Accidents

Drowsy driving can significantly increase the risk of an accidentThe AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently conducted a study that discovered drowsy drivers cause one in six fatal car accidents. Another study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association claims drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. The study claims that driving after you have been awake for 21 hours is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent, which is considered legally drunk. This number climbs to .10 percent after 24 hours of no sleep. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has even classified drowsy drivers as “impaired drivers”.

It should be obvious that driving without sleep is a major risk factor for drowsy driving. There are other risk factors that people may overlook.

What are Other Risk Factors for Drowsy Driving Accidents?

If you are planning a road trip in the near future, you should be aware of these risk factors.

Sleep apnea: People who suffer from untreated sleep apnea are 2.5 times more likely to cause car accidents. Sleep apnea causes interruptions in breathing during sleep, meaning sufferers can wake up several times every night. If left untreated, sleep apnea causes excessive daytime drowsiness and difficulty concentrating. Fortunately, people can be screened and treated for sleep apnea.

Alcohol before bed: Drinking the night before a long road trip can cause excessive drowsiness the next day. This is because alcohol interrupts REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The more people drink, the poorer quality of sleep they receive. Unsurprisingly, alcohol consumption before bed is linked to daytime drowsiness.

Sleeping aids: The effects of sleeping aids like diphenhydramine, which is found in Benadryl and Tylenol PM, can linger into the next day. According to a study published by the American Journal of Public Health, people who use sleep aids have a twofold risk of being involved in car accidents

Shift-work sleep disorder: Shift-work sleep disorder is most likely to affect people who work nights or rotating shifts. The condition causes problems with the body’s internal clock and is linked to a lack of sleep.

Medications: Some medications have warning labels that specify users should not operate heavy machinery. Medications that treat depression, anxiety, insomnia, nausea and high blood pressure could fall into this category.

How Can You Avoid Drowsy Driving?

If you become drowsy while driving, pull over and get some sleep at a rest area or motel. You should never drive at times when you would normally be sleeping. The risk factors we listed above should also be avoided or treated before driving long distances.

If you are traveling with several people, you should take turns driving and resting. Caffeine can help provide increased alertness for several hours.

The Texas personal injury attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC encourage you to drive safely.

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