According to a recent American Automobile Association (AAA) study, drowsy driving accidents are more prevalent than previously thought. The study shows that drowsiness was a factor in 9.5 percent of all crashes; this is higher than estimated by previous federal studies indicating that drowsiness was a factor in only two percent of crashes. Drowsy driving is one of the most under-reported safety issues, and it can also be difficult to determine if drivers were drowsy at the time of the wreck. AAA researchers set out to get more accurate results regarding the role of drowsy driving in accidents by eliminating the need for self-reporting.
A recent AAA study was the most in-depth of its kind ever conducted in the U.S. Researchers set up dashboard cameras inside over 700 drivers’ vehicles and later examined the footage. They looked for any signs that drivers might be drowsy, such as drooping or closing eyes during the three minutes before an accident. The executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety stated that conducting this in-depth analysis allowed researchers to better assess if a driver was fatigued in the moments before the crash.
According to the AAA’s director for traffic safety and advocacy and research, one in five crashes involving fatalities also involve a drowsy driver. Drowsy driving accidents are often caused by drivers who did not get enough sleep the night before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 35 percent of U.S. drivers do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep a night. However, AAA notes that drowsy driving is also attributable to factors other than lack of sleep, such as medications that cause drowsiness.
Previous AAA research has shown that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. According to one AAA study, drivers who miss just two to three hours of sleep more than quadruple their chances of being involved in a drowsy driving wreck. Almost all the drivers surveyed by AAA (96 percent) agreed that drowsy driving is a serious threat to on-road safety, yet 29 percent admitted to driving drowsy. A National Sleep Foundation poll also revealed that 37 percent of drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel in the past year.
AAA warns that drowsy drivers pose a threat to themselves and to everyone else on the road. The agency recommends preventing drowsy driving accidents by recognizing the signs, such as drifting from your lane, difficulty keeping your eyes open and inability to recall details about the last few miles you drove. To prevent drowsy driving accidents, drivers should take breaks when driving long distances and pull over to rest if they find themselves feeling fatigued.
If you were injured due to a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell, Smith & Arden. It can be difficult to establish that someone was fatigued or fell asleep behind the wheel. Our experienced legal team is skilled in proving negligence by showing how long the driver was awake before the accident and accessing traffic cameras and vehicle data recorder technology. Contact us online or call us at 803-929-3600 or toll-free at 800-531-9780 for a free consultation.
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