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Drowsy driving is a big deal

Fatigue is a common topic when people in Texas discuss truck driver accidents. Drowsy driving doesn't get quite as much attention when it comes to other motorists, though, and most people probably think nothing of getting into their vehicles in the morning still yawning.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of the drivers in one poll freely admitted to driving sleepy within the last 12 months. In another poll, 27 percent of respondents claimed they drove drowsy on their commute a few days each month, and 4 percent said this was an everyday occurrence. But why is this such a big deal?

  • Drowsiness and fatigue exacerbate other driving safety issues, such as distraction, stress, impatience and driving over the posted speed limit.
  • A driver who has not slept for 18 hours has the same impairment level as a driver who has a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent.
  • Getting one to two hours below the recommended eight makes a driver twice as likely to be in a drowsy driving accident.
  • Long, boring stretches of rural road with high speed limits are the most likely to lull a drowsy driver to sleep.
  • A drowsy driving crash may lead to a jail sentence for the driver.

It's not necessarily easy to identify when fatigue is stealing over a driver and causing safety issues, though. The National Safety Council notes that people should be aware of the symptoms of drowsiness and take action when they are present. For example, if drivers suddenly realize they do not remember the last few miles, or they missed their exit, it could be a sign that they should stop at a safe place and walk around, take a power nap or get some coffee. Other signs it's time to get off the road include yawning, nodding off, struggling to keep eyes open, drifting out of the lane and having trouble maintaining a constant speed.

If fatigue is a constant problem, a person may want to get checked by a doctor for sleep disorders, try to work in an extra hour or two of sleep every night, and check medication labels for side effects that cause drowsiness.

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