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Stay off the Road When You're Drowsy

You might be the best driver on the road but it won't get you anywhere, literally, if you're half-asleep. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes result from driver fatigue each year, with an estimated 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in losses.

Tired drivers can fall asleep and crash head-on into another vehicle, tree, etc. while driving at full speed. And, because they're asleep, they aren't going to be able to attempt to avoid the crash. Studies have found people's cognitive-psychomotor abilities after 24 hours without sleep are as impaired as they are with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent, which is higher than the national legal limit for DWI convictions.

Sleep-related crashes are most common in young drivers, particularly those who tend to stay up late, sleep too little and drive at night. A study by NHTSA found that young drivers are four times more likely to have sleep-related crashes than drivers over 30.

Check for these warning signs if you think you might be too drowsy to drive:

* Inability to recall the last few miles traveled

* Having disconnected or wandering thoughts

* Having difficulty focusing or keeping eyes open

* Feeling as though your head is heavy

* Drifting out of your lane or onto rumble strips

* Yawning repeatedly

* Accidentally tailgating other vehicles

* Missing traffic signs.

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