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Sleepy Young Drivers Cause Many Car Accidents

One of the most dangerous common habits causing numerous car accidents and injuring (or even killing) innocent people is that of driving while feeling sleepy. Around ten percent of all drivers surveyed admitted that they have sometimes dozed off while behind the wheel. But this bad habit is even more prevalent among younger drivers. About one in every seven drivers in the 16-24 year old age group say that they have fallen asleep while driving on at least one occasion in just the last 12 months alone.

The survey was conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The problem, researchers say, is that many inexperienced motorists often downplay the danger of driving while drowsy. They may not intend to fall asleep, but nevertheless, it happens. They frequently think that they will be able to stay alert and awake, sometimes only to experience a rude awakening after a car crash. Other motorists, passengers, pedestrians and bicycle riders all too often pay the heavy price of lost limbs or lost lives. Such accidents have been the subject of numerous personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

While many think driving while sleepy is relatively rare, in fact it is probably a contributing factor in as many as one-sixth of all car accidents resulting in a death, and one-eighth of all car accidents that inflict serious injuries on someone requiring a trip to the hospital. Yet for some reason, drowsy driving has not yet had the same kind of focused campaigns aimed at reducing it as has happened with intoxicated driving and driving while texting or making cell phone calls.

Experts now recommend that motorists who are feeling drowsy should pull their car over and nap. Warning signs of dangerous levels of fatigue may include such symptoms as repeated yawning, frequent blinking, heavy eyelids, daydreaming, restlessness, and erratic driving resulting in swerving into other lanes. Drowsy motorist may miss traffic signs or exits, and experience difficulty in keeping their head elevated to its usual level.

Motorists traveling long distances may benefit from using a buddy system, and trading off the driving duties, allowing the other person to nap while one drives. When that is not possible, simply taking periodic breaks after so much time or so many miles have elapsed can be helpful.

It almost goes without saying that drinking alcohol as well as taking certain medications can lead to drowsiness, and that driving very late at night during normal sleep hours should be avoided if at all possible, Coffee or other caffeinated beverages, on the other hand, can increase alertness, and should be consumed when such late night driving is unavoidable.

Finally, this bears saying: drivers who always in too big a rush to get where they are going should consider that if they have an accident because they didn't take time out to rest, they may be considerably more delayed, or even never get there at all if they are killed or seriously injured in a car crash.