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How big of a problem is drowsy driving?

In today's busy world, sleep is often at a premium. Whether you put in long hours at work or have other time-consuming commitments, getting enough rest can be hard. But you are a cautious driver, so you avoid getting behind the wheel when you feel too tired. Unfortunately, not everyone takes those same precautions. This is perhaps because few people in Louisiana understand just how dangerous drowsy driving is.

Drowsy driving is exactly what it sounds like -- driving while overly sleepy or tired. A drowsy driver may have a slower reaction time than other drivers on the road. A particularly exhausted driver might even struggle to keep his or her eyes open. If you spend any amount of time on the road, particularly at times when sleep-deprived drivers might be on the road -- you are at risk for serious injury.

Drivers do not take drowsy driving seriously

In a 2019 AAA survey, around 33% of people reported that they had struggled to make their eyes stay open while driving in the month prior. Another AAA survey from 2018 found that drowsy drivers cause nearly 10% of all accidents. Since there is no definitive way to test a driver's level of sleepiness, it is possible that the percentage could be much higher. This means that, even if a sleep-deprived driver hits your vehicle, you might not realize that he or she was suffering from exhaustion until later on.

The average adult needs around seven to eight hours of sleep every night, but many do not get that much rest. Sleep deprivation -- even if the amount of deprivation does not seem high -- seriously impairs a person's ability behind the wheel. A person who has been awake for at least 24 hours has about the same impairment of a drunk driver who registers .10 for his or her blood alcohol content.

Common causes of drowsy driving

You already know that not getting enough sleep is a problem, but there is more at play here. According to Consumer Reports, 20% of people who take prescription sleep aids drive less than seven hours later. People should take most prescription sleep aids around seven to eight hours before driving; otherwise, drivers may experience grogginess behind the wheel.

Drivers are also often reluctant to take breaks, especially on long road trips. Drivers should be well-rested before hitting the road, and even alert drivers can improve safety by taking a break every two or so hours. However, some people simply want to get to their destination as quickly as possible, so they do not take precautions or pay attention to indicators of drowsy driving. These include things like:

  • Frequent yawning or blinking
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Missing exits or road signs
  • Drifting into other lanes

Help is possible

Even if you are well-rested before hitting the road, there is little you can do to protect yourself from a drowsy driver. Drowsy drivers generally have slower response times, so the person who caused your accident might not have hit you at a high rate of speed. These types of accidents can be extremely severe.

Your injuries may be causing you daily pain and suffering. As you seek medical care and take time off work to recover, your financial situation may feel strained or even impossible. Although there is no reversing the damage of a drowsy driving accident, you have the option to pursue necessary compensation through a personal injury claim. Demonstrating negligence is essential for a successful outcome, so speaking with an experienced attorney could make things easier.

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