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Study provides more proof of why you shouldn't drive when you're tired

Along with water, clean air and food; sleep is something we all need to function properly and survive. The damaging effects of not getting sufficient amounts of sleep has been studied extensively and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes that sleep deprivation can negatively affect our mood, physical health and cognitive and physical functioning.

In fact, not getting enough sleep may leave an individual feeling depressed, irritable and anxious which in turn causes one to experience forgetfulness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, decreased coordination and reduced vigilance. Additionally serious medical conditions and events like high blood pressure, obesity and heart attacks have all been linked to sleep deprivation. Given these many negatives, it's worrisome to think that millions of overly-tired drivers routinely get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

In an attempt to determine just how dangerous not getting enough sleep can be when it comes to driving, researchers in Boston and Australia conducted a study during which they observed the driving behaviors of "16 night shift workers who had just come off the job." Over the course of two hours, study participants were asked to drive on a closed track where they encountered various stimuli and situations.

While, after sleeping for eight hours, all 16 drivers were able to successfully complete the two-hour test without incident; the results were very different after participants worked a night shift. In fact after working and being awake for roughly 13 hours, 38 percent of participants experienced "11 near-crashes during the test," and researchers ended the test early for seven drivers due to safety concerns.

The results of this study are further proof of the many dangers associated with drowsy driving. Drivers who notice that they are having difficulty concentrating, drifting into adjacent traffic lanes, yawning excessively and having trouble focusing are advised to immediately pull over and let someone else drive or take a quick nap to recharge.

Source: Huffington Post, "Driving Home After A Night Shift Is Way More Scary Than You Thought," Anna Almendrala, Dec. 23, 2015

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