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Drowsiness: It's just as dangerous as drinking and driving

If you've seen the expectations set by trucking companies, you may be surprised by how far drivers are meant to go on a shift. Of course, the distance has to be reasonable, but the idea of driving for 8 to 10 hours without much of a break can be difficult to imagine.

It's clear to see why truck drivers are often overworked and exhausted behind the wheel. They're doing an important job, but if they don't get enough sleep or have tight deadlines, they may end up on the road when they should be sleeping or resting. If they are tired or drowsy, distracted or unwell, they could cause crashes.

Tired drivers are just as dangerous as drunk drivers. Interestingly, a driver may not realize how tired he or she is until they've actually dozed off. The National Safety Council reports that driving after going for 20 hours or longer without sleep is the same as if you were driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% (the legal limit in the United States).

What is perhaps more interesting is how prominent drowsy driving is, even though drivers know it's dangerous. The National Sleep Foundation took a survey and discovered that around 20% of American adults admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel in the last year. Over 40% admitted that they'd fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once in their lives.

Truck drivers are prone to falling asleep behind the wheel due to driving long distances without moving, driving at night and other factors. Still, they need to be careful, to identify when they are too tired to drive and to pull over when needed.

How can drivers avoid driving while drowsy?

The best method for driving without being drowsy is to get enough sleep. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. If you had less than seven hours of sleep, you may need more rest before you get behind the wheel. If you don't, you could end up falling asleep or pay less attention than you should to the roads.

Drowsiness is a real danger on the roads, but it is totally preventable. If you notice that you can't remember where you've driven recently or have hit the rumble strip on the side of the road, it may be time to take a break. Be cautious, and you can help prevent crashes, too.

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