Not getting enough sleep? Think twice before driving.

Much like water and food, sleep is essential for all human beings to remain alive and function properly. Many people in the U.S., however, fail to realize just how important it is to get adequate and good sleep and, consequently, these overly-tired individuals put the health and safety of millions in jeopardy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed the fact that so many people in the U.S. are getting "insufficient amounts of sleep" as a "public health epidemic." If you think this statement sounds overdramatic, consider these statistics. Every year, the National Department of Transportation, estimates overly tired drivers are responsible for causing car accidents and collisions in which some 40,000 people are injured and 1,550 killed.

These numbers prove just how dangerous it really is to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle when you haven't gotten enough sleep. Unfortunately, many drivers likely don't even realize how tired they are until its too late and they have either caused or been involved in a collision. To help prevent a possible injury or tragedy, it's important to understand the warning signs that may indicate you are too tired to drive.

Many Memphis area drivers have likely experienced one or more of the following telltale signs of drowsy driving including repeated yawning, trouble focusing one's eyes or mind and drifting into adjacent traffic lanes or onto the side of the road. Additionally, a driver who experiences so-called driving amnesia where a driver suddenly realizes he or she can't remember driving the last few miles is a sure sign that a driver is too tired to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Fatigued drivers are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road. Drivers who realize they are exhibiting one or more of the symptoms referenced above and are too tired to drive, would be wise to pull off the road at a safe exit and take a break. Taking a quick nap or a few minutes to grab a coffee or other type of caffeinated beverage may mean the difference between arriving safely at one's destination or not at all.

Source: Department of Motor Vehicles, "Avoid Drowsiness and Fatigue Driving," 2015

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