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Drowsy driving a significant factor in causing serious car crash

Everyone is aware of the dangers posed by an intoxicated driver. Another danger -- and one that may even be more common -- is driving while drowsy. Though some Arizona residents may feel that driving sleepy is often unavoidable, it can be a factor in causing a serious car crash.

In spite of the dangers of drowsy driving, nearly one-third of drivers included in a recent survey admitted driving when they were almost too sleepy to keep their eyes on the road. According to studies, those who drive after 24 sleepless hours function as if their blood alcohol content would be .10, which would exceed the legal limits of .08. Yet in spite of the risk, the problem persists. While there is no clear way to assess a driver's impairment due to tiredness, a study conducted by AAA in 2018 analyzed video footage of drivers moments before a collision, and it was estimated that nearly 10 percent of crashes could be blamed on drowsy drivers.

One medical professional attributes the problem to the use of sleep aids. Directions for use state that users should allow more than seven hours of sleep before driving, but this advice may not be practical for those without access to other transportation options. Those who are driving while drowsy do have certain cues that should quickly get their attention, including drifting out of their lanes or missing exits and road signs.

Drivers who find themselves attempting to travel when they are sleepy are encouraged to travel with a companion who can help drive. Those who rely on stimulants are encouraged to drink coffee rather than soda as it has a higher caffeine content. If possible, drivers are urged to pull over and take a nap that does not exceed 20 minutes (because more sleep time could leave them groggy). Regardless of these steps, drowsy driving will likely continue to play a role in causing many a serious car crash. Arizona victims who have suffered serious injuries -- and the associated financial losses -- caused by another party's negligence may seek compensation through the state's civil justice system.

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