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Averting the widespread problem of drowsy driving

Drowsy driving is almost unavoidable for most drivers in Louisiana, even when they have the best intentions. Part of the reason is a lack of comprehensive public transit systems, but a lot has to do with human negligence. Many do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep every night, nor do they grasp the proper value of sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation says that being awake for 24 hours is like having a blood alcohol content of .10. The use of prescription sleep aids and other drowsiness-inducing drugs can compound the problem. Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea may leave drivers drowsy even when they sleep seven or more hours.

Drivers who must go out on the road even when feeling a little drowsy should consider the following tips. A companion would be good to have since conversation can keep the mind alert. Caffeine, about 150 milligrams of it, can also help. A 12-ounce cup of brewed coffee will provide roughly that amount while black tea and Diet Coke provide much less.

On long trips, drivers should take a break every other hour. If they begin to have trouble keeping their eyes open, drift out of their lane and onto the rumble strip or have trouble remembering the past few miles, they can pull over and take a 15- to 20- minute nap.

Drowsiness will compromise a driver's ability to maintain control over a car, so drowsy driving is a form of negligence. Those who are injured in a car accident and who believe they are not to blame might consult with an attorney. The attorney may evaluate the case in light of Louisiana's comparative fault rule, and if the grounds are good, he or she might prepare the personal injury claim with the help of investigators and other third parties.

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