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Preventing the impact of drowsy driving

Drowsy driving is a widespread trend that has inspired various safety initiatives, including the National Sleep Foundation's Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and HHS' Healthy People 2020 program. Drivers in Connecticut should respond by learning what the dangers are and doing what they can to avoid drowsy driving.

Half of all adults in the U.S. admit to driving drowsy, according to the American Sleep Foundation, and more than 20 percent even admit to falling asleep behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there are 100,000 police-reported crashes every year due to drowsy driving while a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety puts the number at 328,000.

Drowsiness has a serious impact on a driver's awareness of their surroundings, reaction times and decision-making abilities. It triples a driver's risk for an accident. Furthermore, drivers can be unaware that they're drowsy. Bursts of inattention, called micro-sleep, can occur and last 4 to 5 seconds, endangering drivers for the length of an entire football field.

Getting seven or more hours of sleep every night is the best way to prevent drowsiness. Drivers could also consider getting drowsiness alert and lane departure warning systems in their vehicles. If they take medication, they should find out if it causes drowsiness.

As seen in the discrepancy between the NHTSA's and AAA's annual numbers, many drowsy driving accidents go unreported. Someone who has been injured in an accident through no fault of their own may want to hire an auto accident lawyer before filing their claim. The lawyer, in turn, can hire experts to investigate the crash and determine if the at-fault driver was drowsy or impaired in some other way. If the claim is valid, the lawyer can begin negotiations for a settlement with the auto insurance company.

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