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Drowsy driving: how to recognize it and what to do about it

According to the Sleep in America poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adults admit to driving drowsy, and 37 percent admit to falling asleep behind the wheel. The same foundation put out a Sleep Health Index revealing that around 7 million Americans admitted to falling asleep at the wheel within a two-week period. Minnesota residents who have experienced drowsiness on the road will want to know what its effects are.

Most importantly, sleepiness leads to poor judgment and slower reaction times. Drowsy driving becomes more prominent in the summer when people are more likely to take long road trips. The National Sleep Foundation warns drivers that the effects of drowsiness are comparable to those of alcohol intoxication. Drivers who have been awake for 24 straight hours will act like someone with a .10 BAC, which is well above the legal limit of .08.

The signs of drowsiness include yawning, slower eye movements, inability to keep one's eyes open and memory lapses. Unsafe maneuvers, like frequent tailgating and braking, can be symptoms too. Drowsy drivers may find themselves drifting out of their lane.

Once they recognize their drowsiness, drivers should take a nap. This is the only effective solution. Alertness-enhancing activities come with only short-term effects. These activities include talking with passengers, rolling down the window and playing mental games like I spy and 20 questions.

Drowsy driving is a form of negligent driving, so when it leads to car accidents, victims may have the grounds for an injury claim. This means filing against the negligent driver's auto insurance company so that it pays out for medical expenses, vehicle damage and other losses. Insurance companies can be aggressive in denying payment, so victims may want a lawyer to help them strengthen their claim. The lawyer might handle all negotiations and assist with litigation as a last resort.

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