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Drowsy drivers are more at risk for car accidents

North Carolina motorists are aware that they shouldn't drink and drive. Many of them also probably know they shouldn't drive while distracted, such as talking or sending text messages on a cellphone or texting someone. Unfortunately, however, many of these drivers may not hesitate to get behind the wheel when they're sleepy, but doing so could result in the same disastrous consequences.

Drivers who get only five to six hours of sleep a day may be courting danger. They are more likely to be in a car accident than drivers who get at least seven hours of sleep every 24 hours, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that was released on Dec. 6. More than one in three people do not get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Statistics have shown that about 20 percent of fatal accidents in the United States involve a sleep-deprived motorist. Just over 35,000 people died in car accidents in 2015, and that translates to about 7,000 people who might still be alive today if a sleepy person hadn't gotten behind the wheel. Police are now asking drivers involved in accidents where at least one vehicle was towed away and/or emergency responders were at the scene how much sleep they've had.

People injured in car accidents caused by a drowsy driver might want to meet with an attorney to see what methods are available for seeking compensation. If it can be demonstrated that the driver nodded off right before the collision, it might be advisable to initiate the process with the filing of a personal injury lawsuit.

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