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Sleep directly affects crash risks

Getting the recommended eight hours of sleep at night may seem impossible, or even like a ridiculous suggestion, to many people in New Jersey. In fact, getting five or six hours may seem like a challenge when work, commute and family responsibilities fill so many hours of the day. However, CBS News reports that getting into the driver's seat for that commute after such a short night can be extremely risky.

AAA research has revealed that a two- or three-hour sleep deficit can quadruple a driver's chances of crashing over a driver who slept for at least seven hours. Even when someone gets six hours of sleep, he or she has twice the risk of a crash over the person with seven hours. Getting on the road after four or fewer hours of sleep makes a driver about 12 times more likely to be in an accident.

Unfortunately, people who habitually get less sleep than they should cannot catch up and be well-rested after just one night of good sleep. According to U.S. News, research indicates that the lack of sleep becomes compounded over time, leading to fatigue and exhaustion that does not always present as sleepiness. In fact, a person may not even feel drowsy, but may still suffer the effects, which are physically similar to alcohol impairment. 

Commuters may recognize drowsy or fatigued driving by behaviors such as drifting out of the lane, following too closely, and missing traffic signals, exits or turns. Other signs include being easily distracted, making poor judgment calls and reacting too slowly.

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