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Drowsy driving is a major factor in many traffic accidents

While the vast majority of people are aware of the dangers of driving under the influence, far fewer people recognize the perils of drowsy driving, which is a common yet ignored issue. Recently, state safety advocates released a report that concluded drowsy driving is responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths every year. Each year, drowsy driving causes crashes that cost over $100 billion in medical expenses and property damage.

The main reason drowsy driving doesn't receive as much attention as distracted and drunk driving is that it is much more difficult to diagnose. Many drowsy driving crashes only involve one driver and car. Also, investigators have a hard time finding definitive clues that point to drowsy driving.

How prevalent is drowsy driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that police cited drowsy driving as the cause of over 70,000 crashes from 2009 to 2013. These accidents caused approximately 800 deaths and 41,000 injuries.

However, according to the AAA Foundation, the role of drowsy driving was unknown in about 50 percent of the traffic accidents. The AAA Foundation analyzed the traffic accidents where cars had to be towed from the scene and found that the role of drowsy driving was hard to determine in most cases. The AAA Foundation believes that drowsy driving causes about 328,000 crashes and 6,400 fatalities each year.

Drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving

In a report funded by State Farm Insurance, the Governors Highway Safety Association estimated that the cost of drowsy driving accidents totaled $109 billion last year. This estimated cost includes medical expenses, insurance, and even lost wages.

The dangers of drowsy driving are similar to that of drunk driving. Drowsy drivers nod off and scan the road less often, according to the report. Failure to pay attention, slower reaction times and more frequent closure of the eyes are some other reported risks.

The report states that a driver who has been awake for 18 hours straight will drive comparably to a driver with a .05 blood-alcohol level. At 21 hours straight, a driver's skills are comparable to a legally intoxicated individual with a BAC of .08.

Undoubtedly, drowsy driving is a major risk that goes unnoticed by both laymen and experts alike. If you believe that drowsy driving played a factor in a traffic accident that resulted in the injury or death of you or a loved one, don't hesitate to contact an attorney from McCoy & McCoy.

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