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The dangers of drowsy driving

For many drivers, staying off California roads when drowsy can be difficult. Long trips, lack of sleep and medical conditions can all lead drivers to doze off at the wheel, but the dangers of doing so are disastrous.


The National Sleep Foundation states that fatigued driving can affect a driver’s short-term memory and cause issues with information processing. The vision, reaction time and judgment of the motorist can also be impaired. In addition to these changes, there can also be altered emotional states, with tired drivers being more likely to be aggressive and unmotivated.


While these are often the same symptoms cited in intoxicated drivers, there are no tests that can be given at the crash site to determine whether or not a driver was fatigued. This makes it difficult to determine accurate statistics concerning the frequency and risks of drowsy driving, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered some estimates. In the year 2013 alone, sleepy drivers were claimed to be responsible for 72,000 accidents, that resulted in 800 deaths and 44,000 injuries. Officials believe that drowsy drivers may have actually been responsible for a total of up to 6,000 fatal collisions.


In studies involving 150,000 adults, those who admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least one time during the previous 30 days totaled 4 percent. The amount of sleep each person got at night was directly related to their likelihood of driving drowsy, with only up to 3.4 percent of those reporting seven to nine hours of sleep unable to stay awake behind the wheel while those with less than six hours of sleep were much more likely to drive drowsy.

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