Learn the dangers of drowsy driving

Most West Virginia drivers have felt fatigued while behind the wheel at some point in their lives, and they're not alone. According to a recent AAA study, nearly one-third of respondents said they've experienced severe sleepiness while driving within the last 30 days. In 2018, another AAA study found that drowsy drivers were responsible for 9.5% of all wrecks.

Not only is drowsy driving common, but it is also highly dangerous. In fact, a study by the National Sleep Foundation found that staying awake for 24 consecutive hours can leave a driver just as impaired as someone with a BAC level of .10. This is above West Virginia's .08 legal limit.

In order to prevent feeling drowsy behind the wheel, experts recommend that drivers get a minimum of seven hours sleep every day. If drivers use a sleep aid medication, they should sleep for at least seven hours before attempting to operate a vehicle to ensure the drug has worn off. Drivers should also learn to recognize the signs of drowsiness, which include frequent yawning, droopy eyelids, blinking, drifting from a traffic lane, missing road signs or exits and not being able to recall the last several minutes of driving. If drivers begin to experience any of these signs, they should pull over at a safe location and take a 10- to 20-minute nap. They might also benefit from drinking a caffeinated beverage before hitting the road again.

Drowsy drivers cause thousands of serious car accidents each year. Victims of these crashes may have grounds to take legal action seeking financial compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, missed wages and other damages. An attorney could represent a victim in court and push for a fair settlement.

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