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Ford uses 'Sleep Suit' to warn against drowsy driving

It's not uncommon for Texas residents to find themselves driving drowsy on occasion. However, they should understand how risky this can be. Fatigue is a major factor in up to one in five road accidents. Experts say that someone who drives after 18 hours or more of wakefulness can become as impaired as a driver who exceeds the legal limit for alcohol.

March 15 was designated as World Sleep Day to remind everyone of the necessity of a good night's rest. On this day, Ford unveiled a "Sleep Suit" that allows individuals to experience, in a safe environment, what a drowsy driver goes through. This suit consists of goggles and specially designed arm and ankle bands, a cap and a vest.

The goggles are connected to a smartphone app that's able to simulate microsleep episodes -- those brief episodes when a brain overcome by fatigue shuts down involuntary. These episodes start off as half a second long and then gradually become as long as 10 seconds. Sleep Suit wearers are thus able to recognize the blinding effect of microsleep on drivers. The other parts are weighted (more than 40 pounds overall) to complete the effect of impairment.

Ford will integrate the suit into its Ford Driving Skills for Life. This is a free driver training program for 17- to 24-year-olds. Transport accidents are, incidentally, the No. 1 cause of death among young Americans.

Drowsy driving is preventable, and when drivers choose not to do anything about their fatigue, they become negligent. Someone who has been hurt by a negligent driver may want to file a personal injury claim to be compensated for their medical bills, vehicle damage and other losses. However, it can be difficult to negotiate a settlement or litigate on one's own. A lawyer may be a great benefit, sidestepping the aggressive tactics of the auto insurance companies and striving for a fair outcome.

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