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Disaster can strike when a driver nods off at the wheel

Do you feel as sleep deprived as a significant amount of the country's population? A good number of those people who struggle to get enough sleep may live here in Indiana. In fact, you may share the road with drowsy drivers every day and not even know it.

Like many people, you may not consider how dangerous those drivers may be. The demands of today's society may not encourage sleep, but it is vital to your well-being. Understanding how a lack of sleep can affect your body may illustrate how much of a hazard drowsy driving really is.

It's a case of mind over matter

You may choose to skip breakfast. You may choose not to drink extra water when it's hot outside. You may even choose to forgo sleep for a time, but eventually, your mind will force the issue. Eventually, your body will go into sleep mode whether you like it or not. Your brain doesn't care where you are or what you are doing when it takes over like this.

It's a biological necessity

Your body has an internal clock that regulates when you become tired and when you remain alert. Your body cycles through these states every 24 hours. When you mess with your circadian rhythms (as they are called), your body begins to fight back. Even if you aren't ready to fall asleep standing up, as you become more tired, you experience the following:

  • Compromised memory
  • Compromised coordination
  • Slower reaction times
  • Difficulty making decisions

You may not even realize that your "brain fog" is the result of a lack of sleep. In fact, even if you get one good night's sleep during the week, it will more than likely not be enough to make up your sleep debt. Each hour of sleep that you miss that your body needs adds up and keeps you in a state of sleep deprivation.

It's all about the numbers

Drowsy driving contributes to an estimated 100,000 accidents that occur each year. Even as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides these estimates, it also admits that these numbers may not adequately represent the problem. Identifying sleepiness as the cause of an accident proves more difficult than you would think.

Unlike the breath tests used to identify drunk drivers, no test exists to test someone's drowsiness. Nevertheless, the NHTSA still attributes approximately 1,500 deaths a year and 40,000 injuries to drowsy driving.

It's all about what these crashes have in common

At this point, you may stop to wonder when these crashes take place most often. Some commonalities do exist among these accidents:

  • One vehicle occupant
  • Late at night
  • Early afternoon
  • No signs of avoidance

You may think that remaining alert during these times will help you avoid a drowsy driver. Unfortunately, as is the case with drunk drivers, they don't always keep to the schedule. Such an accident could happen at any time.

It's about receiving compensation

If you do have the misfortune to come across a drowsy driver, you could suffer significant injuries. If this happened to you, you could incur a substantial amount of financial losses due to lost time at work, medical expenses and other costs.

It may be possible to recover some of those losses through the filing of a personal injury claim. Before doing so, it may benefit you greatly to understand your rights and legal options.

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