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Each year auto accidents put an end to summer fun by causing catastrophic injuries and death. Travelers try to drive through the night in order to avoid traffic congestion on long trips or to pack as much into a short time as possible. Even sacrificing as little as one to two hours of sleep can affect the ability to stay awake. While the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel have been well documented, few drivers actually heed the experts’ warnings until it is too late.

It is a well-known fact that driver fatigue poses one of the leading threats to safety on our nation’s roads. According to estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 100,000 vehicle crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,500 fatalities each year can be directly attributed to it. Not all of these instances involve drivers who actually fell asleep behind the wheel. In some cases, the driver was exhibiting signs of fatigue or became drowsy shortly before the accident occurred. Dozing off for only a second is long enough for your vehicle to leave the road or veer into the path of another vehicle.

With only a few more weeks left until summer is officially over, many families will be vacationing one last time before bidding a fond farewell to vacations and road trips. Before heading out, it is important to remember that tiredness and fatigue can often affect your driving ability long before you even notice you’re getting tired. Here are a few of the signs it may be time to pull over and get some rest:

  • difficulty focusing,
  • daydreaming or finding it difficult to focus on the road ahead
  • feeling fidgety, restless, or irritable
  • trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic sign
  • frequent yawning or blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • trouble keeping your head up
  • drifting from your lane, tailgating, or finding yourself dangerous close to the road’s edge
  • varying vehicle speed for no reason
  • misjudging traffic situations
  • seeing things “jump out” in the road

Don’t let fatigue ruin your final vacation for the summer. The best advice when planning a long trip is to give yourself plenty of time to get to your destinations. Plan to drive only during your normal waking hours and schedule regular breaks.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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