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Drowsy driving may be far deadlier than official figures suggest

Drowsy driving has been a serious road safety issue in New York and around the country for many years, and studies suggest that the problem is far more widespread than government figures suggest. Crashes caused by fatigued drivers claimed 795 lives in 2017 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but researchers from the American Automobile Association say that the true death toll is much higher. The nonprofit organization Foundation for Traffic Safety has reported that drowsy driving causes about 6,400 fatal car accidents in the United States every year.

When polled about the problem, most drivers say that they routinely drive while drowsy despite understanding that fatigue impairs reaction times and concentration in the much same way as alcohol. When 2,003 motorists were questioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, an alarming 45% of them admitted to remaining behind the wheel even when they were barely able to keep their eyes open.

Drivers sometimes take these risks because they believe that opening a window, playing loud music or drinking coffee will keep them awake. While caffeine can stave off fatigue for short periods, doctors say that sleep is the only true remedy for drowsiness. This is why sleep experts urge motorists to pull over and rest whenever they notice signs of dangerous fatigue. These signs include having difficulty staying in a single lane, missing exits or turns and driving over highway rumble strips.

The accidents caused by fatigue often leave road users catastrophically injured because they tend to involve drivers who do not apply their brakes. When representing a badly injured accident victim, experienced personal injury attorneys might consult with trauma doctors and physical therapists before calculating damages. Doing this may help ensure that the compensation sought will be sufficient to cover the client's long-term medical costs and lost income.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Drowsy Driving

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