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Is your driving impaired when you are drowsy?

The dangers of driving while intoxicated or distracted are reasonably well-known in Kansas City. However, you may not be as aware of the dangers of driving drowsy despite the fact that it can be every bit as dangerous. According to the National Safety Council, driver fatigue can have an effect on the body that is similar to that of alcohol. If you were to stay awake for 20 hours straight, your driving impairment would be equal to that of someone with a blood alcohol concentration of the legal limit of 0.08%. Fatigued driving makes your involvement in a crash three times more likely.

Because it is often difficult to determine if a driver was drowsy at the time of the crash, the actual number of accidents that result from driver fatigue may be much lower than reported. Different estimates place the number of drowsy driving accidents per year at anywhere from 100,000 to over 300,000. Out of the 100,000 annual police-reported drowsy driving accidents, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths occur per year. 

Approximately 50% of all drowsy driving accidents involve drivers under the age of 25. However, fatigue may affect drivers of all age groups. Symptoms of drowsy driving include drifting out of your lane, frequent yawning, difficulty maintaining speed or remembering the last few miles you drove and nodding off. If you experience any of these symptoms behind the wheel, you should pull over and rest right away. If possible, you can ask another vehicle occupant to take over driving in your stead. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.


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