Most people understand the dangers of driving while intoxicated or distracted. However, many Pennsylvanians do not realize the risk of driving while drowsy.

According to a recent study by AAA, nearly one-third of all drivers admit to driving while so tired that they could barely stay awake. Drowsy driving can have serious consequences—including car accidents and severe personal injuries.

What causes drowsy driving?

The most common cause of drowsy driving is sleep deprivation. Driving without having had enough sleep can negatively impair your abilities. Prescription sleep aids can also contribute to drowsy driving. In fact, one in 5 Americans has driven a motor vehicle within seven hours of taking a prescription sleep aid.

How to avoid drowsy driving

In our busy and stressful world, it is not always possible to get a good night’s rest and drive while perfectly alert. Still, there are several proactive measures that you can take to avoid the danger of driving while sleepy.

  • Try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night
  • If you have trouble sleeping, seek medical help
  • Do not operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of a sleep aid
  • Prepare for long drives by getting extra rest
  • Take turns driving with a partner
  • Pull over to stay in a hotel or sleep in your car

What should I do in a drowsy driving accident?

Even if you manage to avoid drowsy driving, you cannot always avoid other drowsy drivers. If you are in a motor vehicle accident caused by a sleepy driver, the first thing that you should do is seek medical attention. Keep in mind that injuries do not always appear immediately—they sometimes take months to manifest.

You should also get the other driver’s name, phone number and insurance information. Photograph the scene of the accident, and get the contact info of nearby witnesses. You may need to take legal action to obtain compensation for damages like medical bills, lost wages and car repairs.