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Governor Jay Inslee has designated this week as our state’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. The goal is to reduce the number of traffic crashes that result in injuries and fatalities.

The state’s website has a clear message for all: “Getting behind the wheel while tired or sleepy is not a crime like driving drunk. But it can be just as dangerous, and just as deadly.”

Maybe that sounds like hyperbole to some, but the reality is that when people go 24 hours without sleep, their judgment is impaired and their physical responses are slowed — just as they would be when drunk.

Who is most likely to be the cause of a drowsy driving accident? Researchers say that drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are most likely, and that men cause twice as many drowsy driving accidents as women.

Of course, anyone can be in a drowsy driving crash. According to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, one third of American adults admit that they have fallen asleep while they were in the driver’s seat. More than 10 percent say that they dozed off behind the wheel within the past year.

Experts say that some of the ways to avoid drowsy driving are to avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep and to avoid alcohol or medications that can cause drowsiness. Also, if you feel yourself getting tired as you drive, pull over and take a 15 to 20 minute nap.

Please be careful over the coming holidays. There will not only be drowsy drivers out there, but drunken and distracted drivers as well.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you can contact Dean Standish Perkins & Associates to discuss your legal options.