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Drowsy driving daydreams can quickly turn into a nightmare

For all its many benefits, the fast-pace of life in New York can be stressful and downright exhausting. There are going to be sleepless nights and early mornings that inevitably leave you yawning and groggy throughout the day. One thing you may want to think twice about, though, is climbing behind the wheel when you're feeling sleep deprived.

You already know the risks to both yourself and others of drunk driving. But did you know that "drowsy driving" can be just as hazardous? So what exactly constitutes drowsy driving? What can you do to prevent it, and most importantly, how can you keep yourself and your loved ones safe on the streets of New York?

Just how bad is drowsy driving?

Driving while excessively tired may not sound too terribly harmless; however, it can prove deadly. The dangers of drunk driving are well documented, but extreme or chronic sleep deprivation has many of the same effects on your body as alcohol. You would never consider climbing behind the wheel with a blood alcohol level higher than the legal limit of .08 BAC, but going without sleep for 18 hours has the equivalent effect of a .05 BAC, and after 24 hours, that number jumps to .10 BAC.

Some of the effects of drunk driving and drowsy driving are similar. Both negatively affect your ability to quickly make decisions, and both make it difficult for you to concentrate on the road and the traffic around you. However, drowsy driving can be even more dangerous than drunk driving in its own way. A drowsy driver, for example, might fall asleep while traveling at high speeds and may not swerve or brake in time to prevent a serious accident.

Signs to watch for

While the risks and effects of driving while intoxicated and driving while exhausted may be similar, the two don't always look or feel the same on the road. Some drowsy driving signs to watch out for include:

  • trouble focusing
  • heavy eyelids
  • an inability to remember the last stretch of road that you just drove
  • constant yawning
  • head-bobbing
  • drifting out of your lane

You'll want to be alert for these signs in yourself and if you notice another vehicle on the road swerving or drifting, it's probably best to keep your distance. Better safe than sorry!

What to do

Driving during your most alert times of your day -- for example, planning to leave in the morning instead of trying to drive late at night -- is advisable; however this may not always be an option. If you do find yourself displaying any of the signs of drowsy driving, or even if you're just feeling excessively sleepy behind the wheel, it is best to take some time off the road to allow yourself to recharge. 

While it may seem like a bit of a hassle, taking minor precautions could potentially save a life, or even several. Of course, no matter how careful you are behind the wheel, you have no control over the actions of other drivers on the streets of New York. If a drowsy driver causes you or a loved one serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident, there are experienced legal resources in the area who can support you and fight on your behalf.

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