Drowsy driving just as dangerous as DUI

Drivers in California may know that intoxicated driving is unsafe, but they may not be aware that drowsy driving is similar to intoxicated driving in its effects. Drowsy driving is a widespread issue: 60 percent of adults in the U.S. claim to have done it at least once with a third of those even admitting that they fell asleep behind the wheel.

After 18 straight hours of wakefulness, a driver's behavior is comparable to that of a person with .05 blood alcohol content. After 24 consecutive hours, the driver will be acting like one with .10 BAC, which is well over the nation's legal limit of .08. Both drowsy and drunk drivers exhibit inattention, loss of judgment and slower reaction times.

There are differences. For instance, a drunk driver usually drives slow and will brake and swerve out of the way when obstacles call for it. Drowsy drivers may not do any of those things as they may fall asleep even while they're driving fast.

The moment that drivers notice they're nodding off, yawning constantly, drifting into other lanes or having trouble focusing on the road, they should pull over and either take a 20-minute nap or switch drivers. Driving when most alert is also recommended.

When drivers fail to take these and other precautions, they run the risk of getting in an accident. When others suffer a personal injury because of a drowsy driver, they may choose to file a claim against that driver's auto insurance company to be reimbursed for medical expenses, vehicle or property damage and other losses. Lawyers may be able to calculate a fair settlement after factoring in any negligence on the victim's part, negotiate for it and litigate if the insurance company refuses to pay.

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