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Drowsy driving: Its frequency, causes, symptoms

Drowsy driving is widespread in New Jersey and throughout the rest of the country. In a survey of almost 150,00 adults in 19 states and the District of Columbia, 4 percent reported that they fell asleep behind the wheel at least once in the past 30 days. At the highest risk among those surveyed were people who snored or who slept six or fewer hours a day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2013 saw around 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths due to drowsy driving.

Lack of sleep may be the most common cause of drowsiness, but it is not the only one. Other factors include sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, alcohol consumption and the taking of medications that lead to sleepiness. Commercial drivers like truckers are especially prone to drowsiness as is anyone who works a long shift or odd hours.

Drowsiness makes drivers inattentive while impairing their decision-making abilities. It also slows their reaction times, endangering other road users when sudden steering or breaking is required. That's why it is important to know the warning signs -- frequent yawning or blinking, constant drifting into other lanes and being unable to remember the last few minutes of driving.

Those who realize they are drowsy should pull over and take a nap if possible. Other solutions, like drinking caffeinated beverages, are short-term. Good sleep schedules are ultimately the best methods of prevention.

Drowsy driving is a form of negligence. Therefore, accident victims who learn that the other party was drowsy may be able to file a personal injury case. A lawyer could handle all negotiations for a plaintiff.

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