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Does this sound familiar? You are driving late at night and you begin to yawn. Next, your eyelids start to droop. Then, your head begins to bob. You continue driving, thinking you can reach your destination safely. Two Virginia teens thought the same thing.

Starting this month, they will join Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia to discuss the dangers of driving while fatigued. Both teens feel asleep behind the wheel and were in a serious single-vehicle auto accident; one suffered a brain injury, the other a spine injury which left him partially paralyzed. One of the teens admitted to staying up most of night playing computer games and texting with friends. The other teen stayed up until 3:00 am, slept for about one hour, and then went to work at 6:00 am. After work, she visited with a friend until 10:00 pm before driving home. All efforts to stay awake failed; she ran off the road and rolled her vehicle.

Many teens can relate to sleepless nights as they juggle school and work. Then there are sleepless nights on social media sites such as Facebook, playing online video games, tweeting, Skyping, or texting leaving them vulnerable to fatigue and sleep deprivation. According to the trauma program manager at Mary Washington Hospital, the addiction to electronic social media has significantly increased the risk of auto accidents because teens are tired from staying up all night using their electronic devices.

A survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that two out of every five drivers admit to having fallen asleep at some point while driving; drivers between the ages of 16 – 24 among the most likely to be involved in drowsy-driving accidents. Tiredness and fatigue can often affect your driving ability long before you even notice you’re getting tired. According to the National Sleep Foundation, here are a few warning signs that you are suffering from sleep deprivation:

  • Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or your head up
  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Daydreaming and struggling to concentrate
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating and missing signs or exits
  • Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive
  • Turning up the radio or rolling down the window to stay awake
  • Slower reaction time, poor judgment

The bottom line: If you’re feeling tired, stop driving. You may save your life and the lives of others.

Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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