Did you get enough sleep last night to drive safely?

More and more people are taking steps to make sleep a bigger priority in their lives. The fast pace of life in a technologically advanced world makes it challenging to carve out time to get enough sleep, in order to feel refreshed and rested the next day.

How often have you relied on a second cup of coffee just to shake off the grogginess that happens when you didn't get enough sleep the night before? Did you even hesitate to get behind the wheel of your car in that state? If not, you aren't the only one. Most people understand the fatigue that comes with having a busy and full life, but they, and perhaps you, may not quite understand the danger.

How does fatigue or drowsiness affect your driving?

In recent years, researchers have realized that drowsy driving shares commonalities with drunk driving, since it has similar effects on you, such as the following:

  • You may experience memory problems and an inability to process the information coming at you from inside and outside the vehicle. You could forget the last few miles of your trip, and your brain may not properly interpret the information it receives.
  • Your reaction time suffers due to a weakened physical state and diminished alertness. You more than likely aren't physically or cognitively able to react as fast as you may need to in an emergency.
  • Your hand-eye coordination diminishes as well. Your brain may not be able to get the appropriate commands to your arms and legs in enough time to avoid a collision.
  • Like other people, you are probably more irritable and quicker to anger when fatigued. Your tolerance level decreases, and it will show in the way you drive.

Under these conditions, the risk of ending up involved in a collision increases dramatically. You may take steps to help ensure you don't drive drowsy by getting more sleep, resting even for a short time before you drive or using caffeine to give you a temporary boost if you don't have far to go. However, other drivers may not do the same. You could travel next to the one out of 25 drivers who falls asleep at the wheel even for a few seconds.

If that happens and you end up in an accident that causes you significant injuries, you could end up out of commission for some time. Even when you are up and around again, you may need to attend physical therapy and follow-up appointments with your doctor. The financial losses associated with a serious accident can devastate you and your family. Fortunately, you may have the opportunity to pursue compensation for those losses through the filing of a personal injury claim in a Minnesota civil court.

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