Pennsylvania residents should know that adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Failing to achieve this can lead to drowsiness throughout the day. For drivers, drowsiness is risky because it hinders their ability to concentrate on the road, recognize hazards and react to them in time. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says some 328,000 crashes occur annually because of drowsy driving.

Fatigue, in fact, triples the risk for an accident. In its severe form, drowsy driving begins to look a lot like drunk driving. Going without sleep for 20 hours straight is similar in its effects to having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08.

Drivers’ periods of inattention can last anywhere up to four or five seconds. These involuntary bursts of inattention are called microsleep. During microsleep, then, a driver will cover the length of a football field without realizing it.

Besides adequate sleep, there are a few ways to reduce drowsy driving. One of them is education, and universities, in particular, should have programs in place to encourage safe driving. Drivers could have drowsiness alert or lane departure warning installed in their vehicle, too. It also pays to double-check the side effects on medication labels.

Not all motor vehicle collisions can be prevented because drowsy drivers can always convince themselves that they are all right. Those who are injured as a result of such negligence can file a third-party insurance claim, though they may want a lawyer to evaluate their case before moving forward.