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Risk of accident increases for sleep deprived drivers

Driving during the morning or middle of the day does not normally conjure fears of possible drunk drivers on the road, but it turns out that some drivers can be just as dangerous even without having a drink. According to experts, driving without getting enough sleep can have the same effect as a .08 blood alcohol content, which significantly raises the risk of causing a car accident. While virtually anyone in Georgia could climb behind the wheel while sleep deprived, the signs of sleep deprivation might not always be obvious.

Drowsy drivers are likely to experience brief moments where their attention unintentionally drifts away from the task at hand -- namely, driving. These episodes of attention loss are referred to as microsleeps. This is typically the least obvious indicator of a sleep deprived driver, while so-called head bobbing is usually considered to be an obvious indicator that the person behind the wheel is not well rested enough to be driving.

So who exactly is most likely to get behind the wheel without enough sleep in their system? Data points to workers who have inconsistent or changing shifts, commercial drivers, untreated or undiagnosed sleep disorders and male drivers between the ages of 16 and 29. Annually, these types of drowsy drivers are responsible for about 16 percent of all car accidents, which totals up to about 100,000 wrecks. Up to 6,000 are believed to involve fatalities.

Some drivers in Georgia tend to believe that as long as they do not drink alcohol or use a cell phone behind the wheel, they are then acting in a safe manner. This is simply not the case. The effects of sleep deprivation on a person's ability to drive are well understood, and the implications can be devastating. In many instances, car accident victims are best able to recover compensation for damages related to a car wreck through the successful settlement of a personal injury claim filed against a negligent driver.

Source: siouxcityjournal.com, "Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving", Dolly A. Butz, Dec. 16, 2015

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