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The dangers of drowsy driving

Car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. But too often, they happen because a driver isn't blinking: He or she is sleeping. Drowsy driving continues to be a very real safety issue for motorists in and around Atlanta, but people don't seem be to getting this message.

Did you know that every year, there are an estimated 100,000 accidents in this country caused by a drowsy driver? This means that thousands of people are being seriously hurt or killed because of someone who is not awake or alert enough to drive safely and avoid a crash. This is quite upsetting, especially considering the fact that these accidents are entirely preventable.

Unfortunately, not all drivers take the responsibility to prevent accidents seriously. They think they are perfectly fine to drive even though they may zone out or close their eyes while driving. And rather than recognizing the threat they pose to others, too many drowsy drivers will do anything they can think of to remedy fatigue besides the obvious solution of pulling over and getting some rest.

Recently, a survey of 2,000 motorists illustrated the odd and ineffective methods that some drivers employ to fight drowsiness while driving. People open their windows, crank up the music, eat, sip on coffee, or turn on the air conditioning in the car.

But none of these methods comes close to working as well as pulling over and napping for a half hour.

People do not always use common sense while driving. They ignore signs of impairment or are more interested in getting somewhere than they are in making sure they get there safely. People also fail to recognize the fact that their actions can have a devastating and life-long impact on others who may find themselves on the wrong road at the wrong time.

While it may not be possible to get every dangerous driver off the road before he or she causes an accident, it is possible to hold these drivers accountable in the event that their actions negatively impact others. Taking legal action against a drowsy driver can't undo a car accident, but it can hold that person responsible and hopefully send a message to others that driving while fatigued is a risk they should not consider taking.

Source: Battle Creek Enquirer, " Attention drowsy drivers: Turning up the a/c won't work," Gary Stoller, July 15, 2014

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