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Drowsy driving puts everyone at risk of injury

At all times, it's necessary for truck drivers to be awake, aware and focused. They need to be certain they're staying in their lanes, prepared to slow or stop for slowing traffic and in control of their vehicles. Drivers who are drowsy can't make the same quick decisions as those who get enough sleep.

Drowsy driving puts everyone on the roads in danger. Drivers are at risk of causing an accident, while those around the truck are at risk of being hit.

How can you avoid driving while drowsy?

Make sure you get enough sleep, since this helps you stay awake and aware even on long, tedious drives. Remember that the body becomes naturally drowsy at certain times of the day, like between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. The body's natural sleep rhythm also causes you to become drowsier between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., so if you have to drive, attempt to avoid those times.

Everyone's circadian rhythm is different, so not all people need the same amount of sleep or feel tired at the same times. It's wise to remember that a lack of sleep makes the effects of the circadian rhythm stronger, so if you're normally tired at 6:00 p.m., you may be even more so if you didn't get enough sleep last night.

Another thing to watch out for is sleep inertia. This doesn't affect all people, but in some, they feel drowsy and disoriented for around an hour or two after waking up. This can impair your ability to drive safely due to impairment. You might have problems with your memory, cognitive functions and reaction times during the sleep inertial phase.

If you're struck by a truck driver who didn't get enough sleep, you do have a right to pursue a claim. Not getting enough sleep is negligent when a person's job is to be behind the wheel.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "CMV Driving Tips - Driver Fatigue," accessed Oct. 11, 2017

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