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The danger of drowsy driving

Half of all adults in New Jersey and the rest of the U.S. admit to driving drowsy, according to the American Sleep Foundation. About 20 percent even admit to falling asleep behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is a serious issue; a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that there are 328,000 drowsy driving crashes every year, resulting in 109,000 injuries and about 6,400 deaths.

The symptoms of drowsiness are easy to spot. Drivers may, for example, miss turns and exits, yawn frequently, have trouble keeping their eyes open and constantly drift out of their lanes. Some drivers become drowsier than they think and undergo periods of micro-sleep, where they suddenly become inattentive for 4 to 5 seconds. This is like driving blindfolded for the length of a football field.

More than seven hours of sleep a day is the only solution for drowsiness. Those who take medications will want to make sure these are not causing drowsiness. As a precaution, drivers can consider installing a drowsiness alert or another type of crash avoidance technology.

College students and drivers under the age of 25 are especially prone to drowsiness, so parents and universities should do their part in educating these individuals about the dangers. Shift workers have a high risk, too, so workplaces should consider creating off-the-job safety programs.

When drowsy driving or another negligent act is the cause of a car crash, the victim may be able to file a claim. It would be best for an injured individual to hire a lawyer who works in the field of personal injury law. An attorney could bring in investigators and estimate a fair amount for a settlement. New Jersey requires that the victim of a two-car crash be 50 percent or less at fault. A lawyer can establish this fact before starting negotiations.

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