Despite the dangers posed by drowsy driving, around 45% of people in California and across the country say that they have had difficulty staying awake behind the wheel, according to one study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Every year, around 328,000 car accidents are caused by drowsy driving, many of which are fatal. While drunk driving receives much more attention, the dangers of drowsy driving are similar. People who are too sleepy behind the wheel suffer decreased reaction time and impaired decision-making similar to the influence of alcohol.

Experts note that, like drunk driving, drowsy driving and the car accidents that follow are entirely preventable. Too many Americans do not get enough sleep each night, and some types of driving are more dangerous than others. Driving alone or at night involves a higher risk of drowsiness. If people are taking a long trip, especially overnight, it is best to split up the driving tasks and take breaks whenever necessary. People often rely on coffee or other caffeinated drinks to help them get through a nighttime drive. This can help temporarily, but if people are far too tired to drive, it is better to pull over instead and take a break.

Signs of excessively drowsy driving may include increased yawning, difficulty keeping a driver’s head up, missing turns or road signs, challenges remembering the past miles driven, drifting from one lane of traffic to another or following other cars ahead too closely. Motorists should take a nap and stop driving if they notice these signs.

Drowsy driving can lead to motor vehicle collisions that cause catastrophic injuries to occupants of other vehicles. A personal injury lawyer may help accident victims to pursue compensation for their lost wages, medical bills and other damages.