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Drowsy driving can be deadly

Maybe it's your teen, whose attending an all-night graduation party. Maybe it's a child in college, done with finals and driving home nonstop. Maybe it's you, going on vacation and needing to make a destination the first night or wanting to save money and skip a hotel by driving all night. Or maybe you had some work projects due, and had to work late most of a week to meet a deadline.

Don't let that figurative deadline become a literal deadline by driving drowsy. While drunk driving receives more coverage, drowsy driving can be equally dangerous. In fact, driver behavior when exhausted can mimic intoxication in all the wrong ways. And of crashes that cause a trip to the hospital, one in 8 are caused by drivers falling asleep.

Don't let that figurative deadline become a literal deadline by driving drowsy. While drunk driving receives more coverage, drowsy driving can be equally dangerous. In fact, driver behavior when exhausted can mimic intoxication in all the wrong ways. And of crashes that cause a trip to the hospital, one in 8 are caused by drivers falling asleep.

While a summertime trip, with long days of driving can easily lead to drowsy driving, if you are fatigued, you can fall asleep driving to work or the store. You may even have experienced "micro-sleep," where you fall asleep for very short periods, and may not recognize that it has occurred. Unless a car in front of you slams on its brakes as you  fall asleep.

If you find yourself nodding, having difficulty keeping your eyes open, or drift off and cannot clearly remember driving the last few miles, it may be a sign that you need to pull over and get some sleep or at least a cup of coffee.

Remember, while dozing off in a meeting may be embarrassing, that minor humiliation is trivial in comparison to the horror of running off the road or crossing a centerline and crashing into another car head on. When you are behind the wheel, mistakes are always a matter of life and death.

Roanoke.com, "Drowsy driving," Elizabeth Hock, June 1, 2015

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