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The dangers of driving while drowsy

Montana is a big state, and Montana residents often have to drive long distances to get from one town to another. Unfortunately, spending long, monotonous hours behind the wheel can be hazardous. A driver who is short of sleep on a long drive is in danger of falling asleep behind the wheel and causing an auto accident. Even nodding off for a few seconds can have disastrous consequences.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 2.5 percent of fatal car accidents and 2.0 percent of nonfatal accidents with injuries are the result of drowsy driving. Other studies estimate that drowsiness is a factor in as many as 15 to 33 percent of fatal accidents.

Not surprisingly, researchers report that people who are frequently short of sleep are more likely to admit having driven while drowsy. Others at risk include commercial drivers, people who work long shifts or work at night, and people with sleeping disorders.

Warning signs of drowsiness include driving on a rumble strip, trouble remembering the past few miles, missing an exit, and frequent blinking or yawning. When a driver realizes they are in danger of nodding off, the best thing to do is pull over as soon as possible and get some rest.

A drowsy driver is more likely to drive negligently. When a drowsy driver causes a car accident through negligence, those who are injured have the right to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Consulting an experienced Montana personal injury lawyer can be an important step towards financial recovery for an accident victim.

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, "Drowsy Driving - 19 States and the District of Columbia, 2009-2010," accessed May 10, 2015

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