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Does driving drowsy make you as dangerous as a drunk driver?

The experts recommend that adults get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you raised your eyebrows at that or just started laughing, you aren't alone. Many adults in Texas would pay to get that amount of sleep, but their schedules and lives simply don't allow for it.

Of course, some days are better than others. An extra cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage may be enough to get you where you need to go, but caffeine is not a cure for sleep deprivation. It may work for a short burst of time, but if you have gone for a long time without adequate sleep, you may start to feel physical effects similar to if you had drunk too much alcohol. 

Is there a correlation between drowsy and drunk driving?

In fact, drowsy driving and drunk driving have more in common than just the fact that caffeine won't fix the problem. For instance, the research indicates that if you stay awake for 18 hours, your driving ability is about the same as a person with a blood alcohol concentration of around 0.05%. By the time you have been awake for 24 hours, your body reacts much the same as someone with a BAC of 0.10%, which is higher than the legal limit of 0.08%.

You will have difficulty reacting to emergencies, focusing on the road and reacting as quickly as you may need to when the traffic and other conditions around you suddenly change. However, one difference could make a drowsy driver more dangerous than a drunk driver. A drowsy driver will usually drive faster, especially if he or she falls asleep even for a few seconds, but a drunk driver will often drive more slowly and attempt to drive safely, even as those efforts are unsuccessful.

Watch for these red flags

You may know when you are tired and probably shouldn't drive, but clarifying what the red flags are that make driving unsafe could help you know when you need to pull over and take even a 20 minute nap:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Failing to remember the last few miles
  • Drifting in and out of your lane
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Yawning frequently
  • Bobbing your head

You may take these signs seriously and do what you can to limit your risk due to your sleepiness, but another driver may not. If you end up the victim of a drowsy driving accident, your injuries could affect your life for some time. Even if you expect to make a full recovery, your injuries will disrupt your life, at least temporarily. Your finances will also be impacted due to missed time at work, medical costs and more.

You could exercise your right to pursue compensation for your injuries and financial losses, but attempting to go through the process alone could mean you don't end up with the maximum amount of restitution you deserve. Instead, you could work with an attorney who will advocate for you and help increase your chances of a successful claim.

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