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Drowsy driving: more dangerous than some think

Though the CDC recommends that everyone sleep at least seven hours each night, many are neglecting this and getting behind the wheel. Residents of Pennsylvania should know that drowsy driving is a widespread trend. Nearly one-third of respondents to a AAA survey admitted that in the past month, they drove in such a tired state that they could hardly open their eyes.

Drowsiness is known to impair judgment and slow down reaction times. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation says that to be awake for 24 hours will lead to the same level of impairment experienced by a drunk driver with a .10 BAC. It has a role to play in 9.5% of all car crashes, according to a 2018 study by AAA that analyzed in-car camera footage of drivers just before they crash.

Some drivers may sleep seven hours and still feel tired, in which case they may want to see a doctor. Disorders like obstructive sleep apnea can lower the quality of that sleep. Also, certain prescription or over-the-counter drugs like antidepressants and blood pressure medications can cause fatigue.

Other times, drivers become sleepy because they did not prepare enough or did not want to pull over for a 15- or 20-minute nap. Naps, caffeinated beverages and a driving companion can all help avoid accidents.

When drowsy drivers are involved in a motor vehicle crash, they may wind up taking most of the blame for it. In this state, those who are less at fault than the other side may seek compensation for their medical expenses and other economic and non-economic damages. Filing a third-party insurance claim, though, is limited to those who suffer permanent injuries or disabilities because Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. Victims may want to see an attorney about their options.