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Avoiding drowsy driving with tips from the AASM

Approximately 328,000 car crashes arise from drowsy driving every year throughout Missouri and the rest of the U.S., according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Of these, around 6,400 are fatal. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently surveyed 2,003 U.S. adults and found that 45% of them have sometimes struggled to keep their eyes open while driving. Drowsy driving, then, is clearly a public health concern.

The AASM has some tips out for helping drivers avoid drowsiness behind the wheel. The first is the most obvious but also the most important: get sufficient nightly sleep. Seven hours is the healthy minimum for adults. If one is chronically and excessively fatigued even after achieving this amount, then there's the possibility one has a sleep disorder.

Drivers are discouraged from heading out at night and from taking long trips without someone else to converse and switch places with. On long trips, drivers should drink plenty of caffeinated beverages for a short-term surge in alertness. The AASM says not to bother with rolling down the window or turning up the music because these are not effective methods for staying awake.

The symptoms of drowsiness are many. They include constant yawning, the inability to recall the last few miles driven, tailgating and trouble staying in the same lane. Drivers might also miss turns and road signs.

When car accidents arise because a driver was drowsy or fell asleep behind the wheel, legal action might be warranted. A crash victim may want a lawyer to assist them through the claim-filing process since auto insurance companies can be aggressive in denying adequate settlements. The lawyer could speak on the victim's behalf at the negotiation table.

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