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Drowsy driving may be worse than officials thought, due to a recent AAA study. It is important to address sleep issues before getting behind the wheel.

These days, not getting enough sleep seems to be the American way. People in Mississippi and other states work long hours, sacrifice their sleeping hours and attempt to stay alert on several cups of coffee. It can be all too easy to let one’s eyes drift closed while behind the wheel. If this happens on the highway or a high-speed city road, the results can be devastating.

Many people are aware of the dangers of drowsy driving, but some might not know just how prevalent the risks are, including federal officials. In fact, a recent in-depth study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety may suggest that drowsy driving crashes are more severe than federal estimations previously reported.

Study blames drowsy driving for more crashes than feds thought

Drivers across the country agreed to have dashboard cameras mounted in their vehicles for several months for the 2018 AAA study. After analyzing dashboard cam video from 700 crashes, AAA officials concluded that drowsy driving was involved in 9.5 percent of these accidents. In contrast, federal estimates blamed drowsy driving for only up to 2 percent of crashes.

Additionally, 29 percent of participants in a AAA survey admitted they had difficulty staying awake while driving during the past month.

Drivers can stay alert for signs of drowsiness

Falling asleep at the wheel can seem to come out of nowhere, especially on a long road trip. Fortunately, there are many signs that often precede nodding off, states the National Sleep Foundation. These include the following:

  • Excessive yawning, blinking or rubbing the eyes
  • Difficulty focusing and having wandering thoughts
  • Trouble keeping one’s head up and eyes open
  • Difficulty remembering driving the last few miles
  • Hitting the rumble strip or drifting from the lane

Drivers should not rely on caffeine, the air conditioner or loud music to keep them alert while driving long distances. Instead, they should address sleep issues with their physician, get a full night’s sleep before a trip and pull over for a rest if they start to notice signs of being too sleepy to drive.

Although some people, including truck drivers, shift workers, students and those with untreated sleep disorders, are more likely than others to get into sleep-related accidents, anyone can fall asleep at the wheel. Mississippi residents may take steps to avoid driving drowsy, but it is not always possible to prevent the negligent actions of others. After a serious accident, injured people may wish to seek compensation. George B. Ready has the experience and knowledge to help you when pursuing compensation for your losses.