Sleep deprivation among drivers only raises the risk for an accident. The National Sleep Foundation says that driving after being awake for 24 hours is like driving with a blood alcohol content of .10 (the legal limit being .08). The CDC says everyone should get a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night, but many fail to get this much.
Even those who do get seven hours may find themselves sleepy behind the wheel, in which case they may want to be evaluated for sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea. They should also consult with their doctor about the medications they take. Antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure medications and sleep aids are just some of the prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can make one drowsy.
Those who feel a little fatigued but who need to drive can consider bringing a companion to converse with and take over as a last resort. Drivers should take a break every two hours during long trips and, if they begin to have droopy eyelids or drift onto the rumble strip, pull over for a 15- to 20-minute nap. Longer than that, though, and drivers are liable to feel groggy afterwards. At least 150 milligrams of caffeine can help can keeping one alert as well. This can roughly be found in a 12-ounce cup of brewed coffee.
Sleep is the only permanent solution to drowsy driving. Those who choose to drive while sleep-deprived and who cause a car accident as a result could be held financially responsible for the losses incurred by occupants of the other vehicles involved in the crash. Victims might want to meet with an attorney in order to learn more about their rights.