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Think you'd never drive while impaired? You may have already done it without knowing it. According to a recently released report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, sleep-deprived drivers are at least as much of a safety risk on the road as drunk drivers, if not more so.

According to the study, if you've slept four or five hours in a 24-hour period, you are as impaired as you would be if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was at or slightly above the legal limit for alcohol. Sleeping for less than four hours corresponds to driving with a BAC of .12-.15. If you have slept two hours or fewer, you are not fit to operate a vehicle. Even drivers who sleep only one or two hours fewer than their normal amount of sleep have 1.3 times the crash rate of those who sleep their normal number of hours.

Because data collection for this study took place during the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight, it's possible that the severity of impairment of sleep-deprived drivers would be even greater if early-morning driving hours had also been taken into consideration.

Unfortunately, there is no test for a person's degree of sleep deprivation. Unlike drunk drivers, who can be pulled over, subjected to a Breathalyzer and charged with drunk driving, there is no penalty for sleep-deprived driving aside from whatever injuries or even death that such behavior can cause.

Whether you've been injured by a drunk driver, a distracted driver, a sleep-deprived driver or someone else, you need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you secure the full amount of compensation you need and deserve to recovery from your injuries.

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