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Drowsy driving: the dangers and common factors

Drowsy driving is behind 9.5% of car accidents, according to a 2018 AAA study. Colorado residents should know not to drive after getting inadequate sleep (the CDC recommends a minimum of seven hours) or an extended period of wakefulness. Yet many people still drive when they shouldn't.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, being awake for 24 hours will make drivers as impaired as someone with a .10 blood alcohol content-- in other words, someone who is legally drunk. However, there may be other issues factoring into drowsiness. Some individuals may have sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, without knowing it.

Another factor is the use of medications that cause drowsiness. These can include antidepressants, anxiety drugs, antihistamines and muscle relaxers. Some people will take prescription sleep aids and still head out on the road before getting the seven to eight hours of sleep that the directions recommend. A 2018 Consumer Reports survey of 1,767 U.S. adults found that 1 in 5 individuals who take sleep aids do just that.

People who must drive when drowsy should consider these tips. They should take brief naps, have a companion take over occasionally and drink 12 ounces of coffee for an energy boost. They should recognize the signs of drowsiness: frequent yawning, drooping eyelids and the inability to remember the last few exits.

If drowsy drivers crash and injure someone else, though, their auto insurance company may have to face a claim. Victims, for their part, may wish to see an auto accident attorney, who, in turn, may hire investigators and other third parties to build up a case against the defendant. Drowsy driving can be difficult to prove since drivers themselves may lie about it. After gathering as much evidence as possible, a lawyer may proceed to negotiations for an out-of-court settlement.

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