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How to recognize and avoid drowsy driving

Drowsy driving is a greater problem than many Louisiana residents might think. In 2018, AAA reported that the number of crashes involving drowsy drivers is actually eight times higher than federal estimates indicate. In a poll from the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adults admitted to driving drowsy, and 37 percent admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.

Drowsiness leads to slower reaction times and impaired decision-making abilities. The National Sleep Foundation notes that the effects of drowsiness are similar to those of intoxication. Drivers awake for 18 consecutive hours are like those with a .05 blood alcohol level; after 24 hours, it's as if they have a .10 BAC. The legal limit is .08.

The symptoms of drowsiness include frequent yawning, the inability to keep one's eyes open, memory lapses regarding the last couple of exits or miles and constant swerving into other lanes. Unsafe maneuvers like frequent braking and tailgating may point to it as well.

The best thing that drivers can do when they recognize the symptoms of drowsiness is take a quick nap. They can also try to enhance their alertness by talking with others in the car, playing mental games like I spy and 20 questions, or even rolling down the window. However, these activities are effective only in the short run compared to a nap.

When a car accident occurs through another person's negligence, the victim may wish to have the case evaluated by a lawyer to determine if there are grounds for a personal injury claim. Drowsiness can be hard to detect, but a lawyer might utilize a network of investigators and other experts to help build up the case. The victim may leave all negotiations to the lawyer, and if a settlement cannot be reached with the auto insurance company, the case might go to court.

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