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How drowsy drivers cause accidents

In recent years, drowsy driving has received increased attention as a source of danger on the road. Many states, including Florida, devote resources to information campaigns aimed at educating the public about the hazards of drowsy driving. Nevertheless, sleepy motorists continue to increase the risk of driving for everyone.

Severe deprivation as bad as intoxication

Because drowsy driving carries far less stigma than drunk driving, many people remain oblivious to the fact that sleep deprivation inflicts symptoms very similar to those of intoxication. Severe sleep deprivation can cause intense physical symptoms such as vertigo, headaches, nausea, blurred vision and even hallucinations, all of which make driving highly unsafe.

Risks of moderate sleep deprivation

Most people do know not to get behind the wheel when they experience physical symptoms. A lesser-known fact is that even moderate under-sleeping can seriously affect one's ability to drive safely. According to the AAA, even getting just one or two hours under the recommended sleep of seven hours can increase the risk of an accident by 1.9.

Many people tend to overestimate their own capabilities. While the amount of sleep needed for optimal function can vary from person to person, extreme deviations from the norm are very rare. For example, while there may be people who do well on six hours of sleep, very few, if any, should risk driving after sleeping for only four hours.

Physical and mental effects

Moderate sleep deprivation can affect you both physically and mentally. You may experience slowed reaction times and increased clumsiness, which can make it difficult to navigate safely and avoid road hazards. Mental effects can include inability to concentrate, short-term forgetfulness and irritability. All of these can distract you from the road and prevent you from noticing dangerous conditions.

Common causes

Sleep deprivation usually happens either because you did not get enough sleep or because of a disordered sleep pattern. For this reason, long-haul truckers and night-shift workers have a higher risk of driving while fatigued.

Health conditions can also contribute to sleepless nights. Sufferers from sleep apnea may not even know they are not getting sleep, as they keep waking up for extremely short periods throughout the night. If you experience fatigue during the day in spite of having a regular and sufficient sleep schedule, consider seeing a physician to look into the causes.

While you can take every step to ensure that you yourself do not drive while sleepy, unfortunately you cannot do the same for the many drivers sharing the road with you every day. Even staying away from visibly impaired drivers may not always safeguard you from accidents. If you suffer from a car collision, consulting an experienced lawyer can be the first step to getting the financial recourse you need.

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