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Facts about the dangers of drowsy driving

Most people know that speeding or driving while intoxicated are high-risk driving behaviors. Engaging in something like that may considerably raise your risk of getting into a car crash. That's why there are laws to discourage drivers from doing these kinds of things.

However, there is another kind of dangerous driving behavior to which Texas law does not apply. Drowsy driving is an extremely risky activity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that around 6,000 fatal car accidents are due to drowsy driving. Though the numbers may seem intimidating, knowing the facts about drowsy driving may help you protect your loved ones.

It happens more than you think

Even if you make sure to get a good night's sleep before a long drive, everyone else you encounter on the road may not be so conscientious. One survey found that 4% of motorists admit that they had fallen asleep behind the wheel at least one time in the preceding 30 days. The NHTSA reports that drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes in one year. 

Certain people are at more risk of drowsy driving than others. Besides people who don't get adequate sleep for varying reasons, those who have sleep disorders may be at higher risk of drowsy driving. Your job could have an impact as well since shift workers and those who drive for a living may be more prone to driving while drowsy. Certain medications may also cause drowsiness as a side effect.

How to stop drowsy driving

If you're worried that you may be a drowsy driver, there are several warning signs that may help you recognize it. There are the more-obvious physiological responses to fatigue such as yawning or blinking a lot. If you realize you can't remember the last few miles of your drive or miss your exit or turn, that may also be an indication to pull over. Some sleepy drivers may drift in their lane, sometimes so far as to hit a rumble strip on the edge of the road.

As with many things, prevention is the best cure for drowsy driving. If you know you're going to be driving, make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before and get in the habit of going to bed and getting up at the same times each day if possible. Consult a doctor if you have or think you may have a sleep disorder, and be mindful of using medication that might make you sleepy. It's also always a good idea to avoid drinking alcohol before driving.

Protect your rights as a victim

Even with all of this helpful advice, car accidents with drowsy drivers will still happen. If you or someone you care for has been hurt in a crash with a negligent driver, you may want to consult an attorney. It is important that victims understand all of their available legal options.

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