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Ford educates young people about the dangers of drowsy driving

Sleep deprivation has a strong potential to impair drivers in Florida. Traffic safety experts estimate that sleepy drivers contribute to as many as 20 percent of motor vehicle accidents. As part of its young driver education program, the Ford Motor Company has developed a "Sleep Suit" that simulates the effects of sleep deprivation.

Participants in the program also wear goggles that force them to see what happens when drivers experience microsleep. Drowsiness can cause people to lose visual focus on the road even if their eyes are open. Drowsy drivers cannot successfully resist this physiological microsleep response when severely fatigued. In the program, googles progressively block a participant's vision in increments of up to 10 seconds.

Additionally, people wearing the sleep suit must contend with 18 kilograms of specialized gear on their bodies. With the cap, arm and ankle bands and vest weighing on participants, they experience firsthand the combined effects of sleep deprivation.

Researchers have determined that people who have not slept for over 18 hours experience impairment similar to drinking alcohol above the legal limit for driving. For the sake of safety, tired drivers should find an appropriate place to take a break from the road. A 20-minute nap followed by a caffeinated drink could alleviate drowsiness.

Everybody has a social responsibility to drive safely. A drowsy or intoxicated driver who causes an accident could inflict pain and suffering on a victim as well as financial hardship. A person injured by a negligent driver might want legal support when preparing a personal injury claim. With help from a car accident attorney, a victim could seek compensation for lost income and medical expenses.

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