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Changes to sleep patterns may make driving dangerous

Residents of New Jersey and most other states in the country lost an hour of sleep on March 10. While losing an hour of sleep may not seem like a big deal, it could significantly increase a person's risk of getting into a car accident. According to research by AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety, losing that hour could double a person's risk of being involved in an accident.

Drivers may believe that they can will themselves to their destinations even if they are tired. However, research suggests that drivers who have slept less than five hours in a 24-hour period show similar impairment to those who are drunk. For the most part, those who operate motor vehicles understand that driving while tired is dangerous. However, the Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that roughly one-third of respondents admitted to driving while fatigued in the previous month.

Singing, listening to the radio or taking other steps to stay awake are generally futile. The only way to become less tired is to actually sleep. Individuals who are having trouble remembering where they are or where they are going are likely too tired to drive a motor vehicle. The same is true of those who are having trouble staying in their lane while driving or struggling to keep their eyes open.

Regardless of the severity of a car accident, it may result in significant bodily injury and property damage. Those who cause motor vehicle accidents may be liable for paying damages to an injured victim. An employer, a government agency or others may also be liable for damages if they were negligent in causing it to happen. Negligence may include driving while too tired or while impaired by alcohol. Compensation might help to pay medical bills or replace property damaged in a crash.

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