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Staying alert behind the wheel

In a AAA survey, approximately one-third of the respondents said that at least once in the previous month, they drove in such a drowsy state that they could barely keep their eyes open. North Carolina motorists should know already how dangerous it is to drive while sleep-deprived. The National Sleep Foundation says that driving after 24 hours of wakefulness is like driving with a blood alcohol content of .10, which is above the legal limit.

Unfortunately, experts say that drowsy driving is almost impossible to avoid. There are contributing factors, though, that people can keep in mind. For example, one in five Americans who take prescription sleep aids say they got behind the wheel within seven hours of taking them, according to a 2018 Consumer Reports survey. These types of medication should only be taken when one is able to get seven to eight hours of sleep afterward.

The only sure way to prevent drowsiness is to get the CDC's recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep every night. If drivers are still drowsy, they may have a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea.When drowsy drivers absolutely must head out on the road, they can bring a companion who can take over. During long trips, motorists should take a break every two hours as well as a 15- to 20-minute nap when drowsiness symptoms are noticeable. Caffeine can also help.

Otherwise, drivers will only increase their risk for causing car accidents. Occupants of other vehicles who have been injured in a crash caused by a sleep-deprived or otherwise negligent motorist might want to have a lawyer's help when attempting to reach a fair settlement with the at-fault driver's insurance company.

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