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The dangers of sleep-deprived driving

Sleep deprivation affects many drivers in New York on a daily basis. The National Sleep Foundation has compared it to alcohol intoxication, saying that being awake 24 hours is similar to having a blood alcohol content of .10 (a BAC of .08 means one is legally drunk). Since drowsiness raises the risk for car crashes, drivers will want to consider the following information.

First, the CDC recommends at least seven hours of rest every night. Adequate sleep is the best prevention against drowsy driving. Those who get a decent amount of rest and still feel drowsy may have a condition like obstructive sleep apnea, which generally requires being evaluated by a doctor.

Second, there are certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs that induce drowsiness. They include sleep aids, antihistamines, antidepressants, some anxiety drugs and some blood pressure medications. A doctor could adjust dosage timings so that the patient is not drowsy when driving.

More than anything else, long trips require adequate sleep. Drivers should also take a break every two hours and be on the lookout for symptoms of drowsiness. Common signs include failure to maintain one's lane, difficulty remembering the last few miles traveled and drooping eyelids. Drivers may pull over and take a 15- to 20-minute nap if necessary. Furthermore, 12 ounces of brewed coffee can provide enough caffeine to make drivers alert.

Drowsiness will slow one's reaction times and judgment. That's why fatigue often leads to car crashes. Someone who has been hurt by a drowsy driver may be able to file a personal injury claim. They can leave settlement negotiations to a lawyer and proceed to a trial if one a settlement is not possible.

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