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Drowsy driving and the risk for car crashes

In New York and across the U.S., drowsy driving is becoming an epidemic. In a AAA survey, nearly one-third of respondents said that at least once in the past month, they drove while having trouble keeping their eyes open. Many drivers are not getting the seven hours of sleep every night that the CDC recommends, and some may have a disorder like obstructive sleep apnea that makes them tired even when they get seven hours.

Others ignore the side effects of medications like antidepressants, antihistamines and muscle relaxers. Others may take prescription sleep aids and yet ignore the direction that says they should sleep seven to eight hours afterward. A 2018 Consumer Reports survey found that one in five Americans who take sleep aids drive within seven hours of taking them. Some medications will interact with each other to induce sleepiness.

Drowsiness is a factor in 9.5% of all car crashes, according to a AAA study in 2018 that analyzed in-car camera footage of drivers causing crashes. The effect of sleep deprivation is similar to that of alcohol intoxication.

For this reason, drivers going on long trips are advised to have a companion with whom they can take turns behind the wheel. Drivers should also take 15- or 20-minute naps and drink around 12 ounces of coffee.

If drivers let drowsiness slow down their judgment and reaction times, they are more likely to injure themselves or others in motor vehicle accidents. Victims of such accidents may not be free from blame themselves, in which case the courts will determine each party's degree of fault. Based on this, victims might want a lawyer to evaluate the case. If retained, the lawyer may assist with negotiations and more.

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