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NSF on drowsy driving and its dangers

The National Sleep Foundation has scheduled its annual Drowsy Driving Prevention Week for Nov. 1 to 8, 2020. Residents of Illinois should already know just how dangerous drowsy driving can be. Drowsy drivers triple their chances of a car crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some 328,000 crashes occur every year in the U.S. because of drowsy driving. An estimated 6,400 of these crashes are fatal.

Drowsy driving can be similar to DUI. Going for over 20 hours without sleep is like having a BAC of .08: in other words, like being legally drunk. Fatigue impairs drivers' ability to assess risks and react to them in time. Some drivers, unaware of their fatigue, may experience four- to five-second periods of inattention called micro-sleep.

This is where interventions are necessary, especially on the part of parents. Drivers under 25 cause 50% of all drowsy driving crashes, so parents should try to incorporate rules on drowsy driving into their driving agreement with their teenage children. Universities should also create education programs on this trend because university students tend to sleep less than the recommended seven hours every night.

Employers are encouraged to have off-the-job safety programs in place for employees. Lastly, medication users may be more likely to avoid drowsy driving if labels were clearer about side effects.

It's all up to the drivers themselves whether they want to go out when they are clearly tired. Drowsy driving is negligent behavior and has formed the basis for many personal injury claims on the part of those who are injured in a crash. Victims who are wondering if they have a valid case may want to discuss their situation with an attorney.

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