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Cok Kinzler PLLP

Drowsy driving, and how to avoid it

Most drivers in Montana are no stranger to drowsiness behind the wheel, but that hardly means that they should do nothing about it. Unfortunately, many continue to drive drowsy even when they know it's wrong. As a result, up to 6,000 fatal crashes occur every year that are related to drowsy driving. The following are a few tips for avoiding drowsiness.

It all starts with getting adequate sleep. The CDC recommends seven hours for adults and eight hours for teenagers. Drivers should stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Unfortunately, some professions prevent workers from getting the sleep they need. Shift workers and the drivers of buses, big rigs and tow trucks are especially vulnerable.

Inadequate sleep is not the only possible factor. Some may have obstructive sleep apnea or some other sleep disorder. If they snore a lot, they may want a doctor to evaluate them. In other cases, drivers may become sleepy because they take medications that cause drowsiness. Some drivers become drowsy due to alcohol.

Recognizing the symptoms of fatigue is crucial. Drivers may miss an exit, forget what the last few miles were like or have trouble remaining in their lane. They may yawn or blink constantly. Once they are sure of their condition, they should ideally pull over for a 15- to 20-minute nap.

Drowsy driving is sometimes hard to prove in the wake of car accidents, but it can still form the basis for personal injury claims. In Montana, those who file such claims can recover damages as long as their contribution to the accident was less than the defendant's. This does not guarantee a fair settlement, though; victims may need a lawyer to assist with the negotiations and other steps, such as the gathering of proof showing how the defendant was negligent.

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