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What is drowsy driving and how can it lead to accidents?

You may assume getting behind the wheel after only a few hours of sleep is not as dangerous as it seems, but drowsy driving can be just as catastrophic as driving with illegal substances in your system.

Drowsy driving typically occurs when your fatigue affects your ability to safely operate a vehicle, which means your attention and reaction time diminish significantly.

Signs of a problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive yawning or trouble remembering what turns or exits you need to take may indicate tiredness. If you find yourself struggling to concentrate on the road or continually hitting the rumble strips while driving, it may be a sign you need to pull off the road.

You may even find yourself speeding or unable to maintain an even speed. Drifting between lanes while struggling to stay awake can also increase your chances of a car crash.

Issues and accidents

Some of the most common reasons why people get into crashes while tired are work schedules and lengthy commutes. Having long shifts or driving during the night can lead to prolonged trouble with fatigue, which lowers your reaction time while on the road.

Shift workers or truck drivers who stay up later than most people are more likely to struggle with this phenomenon. Drivers who use medications that include side effects like tiredness or fatigue, or even people with sleep disorders, are also at risk for drowsy driving. Making sure to get eight hours of sleep a night and to double check your medicine before using your car can help you avoid serious injuries.

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