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It is the middle of the holiday season – the time of year when many residents of North Carolina and elsewhere travel out of town or to a different state to visit loved ones. Those who take a road trip can face numerous dangers, whether they are due to adverse weather or congested traffic. Drowsy driving is another hazard that drivers everywhere should be aware of. 

Safety experts spend a great deal of time and focus on raising awareness of the dangers of drunk driving or distracted driving, but direct less thought toward drowsy driving. However, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out, this is a far more common problem than people may think. In 2013, 800 deaths and 44,000 injuries across the country were attributed to sleep-related crashes, but authorities believe drowsiness was responsible for far more than the 72,000 reported accidents that year – and the number of sleep-related accidents is disturbingly high every year. 

In fact, safety experts say that people who get behind the wheel after not sleeping for 24 hours are experiencing the same impairments as someone who is driving drunk. Those who are about to go on a road trip, or just planning to drive across town to work, can reduce the chances of a drowsy driving accident in the following ways: 

  • Get enough sleep the night before a trip. 
  • Address untreated sleep disorders with a doctor. 
  • Do not get behind the wheel after taking medications that cause drowsiness, including antihistamines. 
  • Avoid driving for overly long stretches of time without taking a break. 
  • Bring someone who can switch places driving so the other can rest. 

Drivers who are aware of the risks and take precautions may protect themselves and others, but the best precautions are not an absolute guarantee of safety, especially when it concerns other drivers. Those who sustain an injury because of a negligent driver may be able to seek compensation.