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How does drowsy driving affect car accidents?

Due to many successful awareness programs, most drivers in Ohio know about the dangers of drinking and driving. They also know about the hazards associated with driving and texting at the same time. However, there is one common cause of both car and truck accidents that often is overlooked -- drowsy driving.

According to federal authorities, drowsy driving is the leading cause of fatalities on highways and roads. One recent estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found that drowsy driving was responsible for about 1.2 million car crashes a year.

What is drowsy driving? Put simply, it is when someone is driving while sleepy, impairing their ability to drive safely.

Many people equate drowsiness with falling asleep at the wheel, but this is not the case. Even while awake, drowsy drivers have lower levels of alertness, reaction time and judgment and decision making skills.

According to NHTSA, over the last 10 years, more than 7,000 people have died in accidents related to drowsy driving. In 2014, 2.6 percent of all fatalities in the year were attributed to drowsy driving -- 846 fatalities. More than 30,000 people were injured in accidents involving a sleepy driver. Nonetheless, some studies suggest the number may be much higher -- between 5,000 and 8,000 people losing their lives annually due to this behavior.

Since it is hard to conclusively measure drowsy driving, the numbers may vary from study to study. But, what is clear that an alarming number of people across the country are falling victim to this completely avoidable behavior. Drivers on the road should behave responsibly and just as they do not get behind the wheel drunk, they should not get behind the wheel while fatigued.

It is difficult to prove that a driver who has caused a car accident is drowsy or fatigued. But, it may be beneficial for accident victims to consider consulting an experienced attorney who can guide an investigation for them, and help them hold the negligent driver responsible.

Source: NHTSA.gov, "Research on drowsy driving," Accessed on April 18, 2016

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