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Americans are a tired bunch. Over one-third of adults in the United States fail to get adequate sleep, and their drowsiness can impact their performance of other activities – such as driving. Like many people, you may think little of hitting the road while feeling groggy. But doing so could put your life – and the lives of others – at risk.

Drowsy driving’s impact

The number of people who admit to drowsy driving is alarming. Over 50% of adults in the United States will drive while feeling tired. And 40% have fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once during their lifetime. This collective fatigue puts other motorists in peril, since drowsiness makes a driver three times more likely to be involved in an accident.

Each year, around 100,000 drowsy driving accidents are reported to the police. Yet, safety, health and science experts estimate that the total number is much higher. Regardless, these crashes cost hundreds – if not thousands – of people their lives, and cause many more non-fatal injuries.

Preventing drowsy driving

While you cannot stop other motorists from driving while fatigued, you can make sure you are alert whenever you get behind the wheel. The easiest way to do so is by getting enough sleep – between seven and nine hours each night.

If you take prescription medications, you will want to check if they list drowsiness as a side effect. If they do – and if you must take these at a certain time – you will want to arrange alternative transportation if you need to go somewhere afterward.

You will also want to stay alert to any signs of drowsiness while you are driving. These may include:

  • Yawning
  • Nodding off
  • Blinking frequently
  • Drifting out of your lane
  • Missing your turn or exit
  • Having trouble maintaining your speed

If you experience any of these symptoms, you will want to pull over and rest until you are awake enough to continue your commute or journey.