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AAA publishes study on drowsy driving

In North Carolina and across the U.S., drowsiness behind the wheel is seen as a lesser hazard compared to distraction and alcohol. While this is reasonable, the fact is that drowsiness is more widespread than many think. This is the argument of researchers at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which has just published a new study about drowsy driving in more than 3,500 subjects.

Between October 2010 and December 2013, these drivers were monitored for several months using in-car cameras and other equipment. Researchers measured drowsiness levels through the percentage of time that drivers closed their eyes. After the four-year period, it was discovered that the subjects got into a total of 701 crashes. Researchers calculated that 8.8 to 9.5 percent were the result of drowsiness.

Compare this to U.S. government statistics, which attribute only 1 to 2 percent of all crashes to drowsiness. The authors of the study claim that this low percentage is due to the underreporting of drowsiness; there's no clear-cut method for detecting drowsiness like there is for drunkenness, for example, and there's nothing to prevent drivers from denying their drowsiness.

Researchers stress the need for drivers to get adequate sleep: seven to eight hours is recommended. According to the CDC, over a third of adults in America claim that they sleep less than seven hours a day.

Though drowsiness is hard to detect and measure, that doesn't mean drowsy drivers are off the hook when they cause a car accident. The victim may be able to file a claim for damages, including medical expenses, rehabilitative care, and lost wages. He or she may benefit from having a lawyer to assess the claim first. Lawyers may estimate a fair amount of compensation, gather proof of the other's negligence with the help of investigators, and negotiate on the client's behalf for an informal settlement.

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