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Drowsy driving causes more crashes than research can account for

How many South Carolina residents can honestly say that they have never gotten behind the wheel when they hadn't gotten enough sleep? Probably not many, and you may be among them. You may not think it's a big deal, but it can be.

When you are tired, you may not think straight, it may take you longer to react to things, and you may not think clearly. Drivers who get on the road without adequate sleep could end up causing an accident.

What other things cause drowsy driving?

Research indicates that at least 6,000 deaths occur on roadways across the country due to drowsy drivers. Not getting enough sleep is just one reason why a driver may be drowsy. Other reasons include the following:

  • Alcohol usage
  • Untreated sleep disorders
  • Shift work
  • Driving commercial vehicles
  • Medications

Any one of these issues could raise the risk of an accident occurring, and the risk only increases if an individual exhibits more than one risk factor.

What are the signs of drowsy driving?

If you are like most people, you may suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. Not many people get enough sleep these days. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but it seems to have increased the demands on our time and increased the pace of life. Employers expect workers to complete tasks faster; people work longer hours and then go home to take care of family obligations. So, if you know the signs to look for, it may keep you safe:

  • Frequent blinking or yawning
  • Hitting the road's rumble strip
  • Missing an exit
  • Drifting out of your lane
  • Failing to remember the last few miles

If you feel like this behind the wheel, you may want to pull over and take a short nap. Research shows that as little as 15 to 20 minutes of sleep could make a difference.

What to do if you encounter a drowsy driver

Drowsy driving can easily look like drunk driving to another motorist. If you see a vehicle moving erratically or otherwise in a manner inconsistent with the rest of the traffic, take measures to get away from that vehicle -- safely. If you can't get away, you may end up suffering injuries at the hands of a drowsy driver. It may be possible to pursue compensation for those injuries and the financial losses that usually accompany car crashes.

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