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New study shows how drowsy driving is a big risk

Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have released a new study that may be of interest to drivers in New York. It claims that drowsy driving, while not as dangerous as distracted or drunk driving, is nevertheless a major risk.

U.S. government statistics show that 1 to 2 percent of all accidents involve drowsiness, but the numbers may actually be much higher. There are several reasons for the discrepancy. Drivers may not admit they were drowsy or even know they were or die in the accident. Police also have no way to measure drowsiness like they do with alcohol. This is why data other than what’s provided in police reports, such as in-vehicle camera footage, is badly needed.

For the study, researchers used in-vehicle cameras to monitor more than 3,500 drivers across the U.S. for several months over a four-year period. Out of the 701 crashes that occurred, drowsiness factored in 8.8 to 9.5 percent of them. Sleepiness was involved in 10.6 to 10.8 percent of accidents that led to airbag deployment, injuries or serious property damage.

The authors claim that their study is the first to use PERCLOS (percentage of eye closure) as an alertness measure. The longer the drivers had their eyes closed, the drowsier and less attentive they were.

Drowsy driving is a form of negligence, so the victims of accidents that were caused by sleepy individuals may have the grounds to file a motor vehicle accident claim. If successful, they could receive a settlement compensating them for their injuries, vehicle damage and lost wages. A lawyer is essential to the filing process as he or she could hire investigators and accident reconstruction experts to find all the proof pointing to the other party’s guilt. An attorney can also negotiate on his or her client’s behalf with the insurance companies, litigating only as a last resort.