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Fatigued driving accidents exceed estimates

Driving while fatigued increases the risk of car accidents. In fact, a recent report issued by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicated that drowsy driving caused more car accidents in this country than estimated earlier.

Researchers analyzed several months of video of almost 3,600 American motorists. Their vehicles were equipped with a dash-cam video recorder that allowed analysis of each driver's face in the one to three- minute period before an accident. Researchers tallied the amount of time drivers' eyes were closed during that time. Drivers were considered fatigued if they could not keep their eyes open for more than 12 seconds.

Participating drivers were involved in 700 crashes. Researchers also reached the startling conclusion that driver fatigue was involved in approximately 10 percent of all vehicle crashes in this country.

By comparison, federal estimates were that driver fatigue was involved with one to two percent of all accidents. Experts long suspected that these accidents were under-reported because fatigued driving does not leave observable evidence like alcohol in a drunk driving accident.

Other research showed that a risk of a crash increases significantly if a motorist does not have at least seven hours of sleep. Missing over two to three hours of sleep over 24 hours poses the same risk as driving drunk.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that almost one-third of all drivers do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep each day. Almost three in 10 drivers admitted that they were so tired while driving in the previous month that they could not always keep their eyes open.

Technology was developed to combat this risk. Manufacturers are beginning to install sensors that monitor eye movement and lane-departure warnings that emit an audio warning or a sensory warning like a vibration in the steering wheel to wake a driver.

A victim of an accident caused by a fatigued driver can suffer catastrophic injuries and other losses. An attorney can help assure that they can pursue their right to compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.

Source: Health Day, "Sleepy drivers may be causing more crashes than thought," By Alan Mozes, Feb. 8, 2018

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