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Dangers of driving while drowsy

Tennessee residents seem to lead busier lives than ever, which sometimes mean they don't get enough sleep. Federal and private groups alike have found that driving while drowsy increases the risk of accidents and is similar in effects to drinking and driving. One study reported that, in 2011, about 2 percent of deadly crashes involved tired drivers. However, experts believe that the study greatly underestimates those numbers as it can be difficult to tell when a driver is tired.

Law enforcement personnel list drowsiness as a possible cause of fatal car accidents nearly three out of four times. One researcher estimated that more realistic numbers for drowsy driving are about 11.6 percent in crashes with deaths and 16.5 percent of all accidents. The effects of driving while drowsy mirror those of drinking and driving and include slower reaction times, decreased vision and poorer cognitive skills. Overall, society doesn't value getting enough sleep.

A survey conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that 60 percent of motorists got behind the wheel when they were sleepy in the past 12 months. While experts recognize the problem, combating it can be challenging. There isn't a way to measure tiredness, so passing laws against drowsy driving might not be effective. However, some agencies are developing informational programs to raise awareness of the issue in hopes that drivers themselves will think twice before getting behind the wheel when drowsy. Some car companies recognize the problem and are manufacturing vehicles that alert motorists who might be getting sleepy.

When someone is hurt or killed in an accident due to driving while drowsy, the victims might want to hold the responsible parties accountable. A personal injury attorney might be able to file a lawsuit to seek financial compensation to cover medical expenses or even funeral costs.

Source: AOL Autos, "Drowsy Driving Accident Highlights Danger Of Underreported Problem", Michael Zak, September 11, 2013

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