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Drowsy driving more widespread than previously thought

Various government reports have revealed that 1% to 2% of all car crashes in Louisiana and across the U.S. involve drowsy driving. Yet AAA researchers, in a 2018 study, reported that the number is more like 9.5%. In fact, it may be higher because drowsy driving is not only increasingly common but also hard to detect. Police usually have to rely on drivers' testimony, and drivers may lie.

One reason why so many people drive while drowsy is that they do not recognize the danger. Many individuals understand that drinking or taking drugs affect driving ability, but this same belief does not extend to sleep deprivation. Yet fatigue can slow a person's reflexes and impair his or her concentration.

AAA researchers studied dashcam footage of 3,593 drivers involved in crashes in order to arrive at its conclusion. The organization measured drowsiness levels based on the percentage of time that drivers had their eyes shut. Researchers found out that more than half of the drowsy driving crashes took place at night and that age and sex were two factors that did not affect percentages.

New technology, including automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning, may partially address drowsy driving. Drivers are encouraged, though, to, first of all, get adequate sleep. Having someone take over the wheel on long trips is also helpful.

Drowsy driving is a form of negligence, so those who are injured in a car accident and find out the other driver was drowsy or fell asleep behind the wheel may have grounds for a claim. Victims may want to have a lawyer evaluate the case and see if it complies with Louisiana's rule of comparative fault. If it does, an attorney may go on to build it up and eventually start negotiations for a settlement.

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The Law Offices of W.A. “Chip” Forstall, Jr.

Chip Forstall
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New Orleans, LA 70119

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