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How drowsy drivers put others at risk

You were commuting to or from New Orleans and were involved in an accident with another driver, who was found to be negligent. Perhaps the driver was drowsy; drowsiness is one of the leading causes of crashes in the nation.

Here are some startling figures: The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that there are 328,000 drowsy driving crashes every year. This is 350% higher than the official statistics given by police since many cases of drowsy driving go unnoticed and unreported. Of these crashes, 109,000 involve some level of injury, and 6,400 are fatal.

How fatigue affects your health

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends at least seven hours of sleep for adults, but many people neglect to get this much. The resulting drowsiness they feel throughout the day can affect their ability to pay attention and impair their vision and muscle coordination.

Drowsiness can become a lot like alcohol intoxication; the effects of being awake for 20 consecutive hours have been compared to that of having a .08 blood alcohol concentration. Severe fatigue will lead to brief periods of inattention called microsleep. During a four- or five-second microsleep episode, a driver on the highway could cover the length of a football field without knowing it. It’s no wonder that fatigue can triple the risk for a crash.

Interventions for drowsy driving

The National Sleep Foundation states that parents, universities and employers can do a lot to prevent drowsy driving. It all starts with better education. There are also crash-avoidance technologies available like lane departure warning that can help curb drowsy driving incidents. In addition, there’s room for improvement in the way some drowsiness-inducing medications are labeled.

A lawyer to help you through this time

Motor vehicle accidents that are caused by a drowsy driver can open the way for a personal injury claim, but filing one is a complicated procedure. You may benefit from the personal attention of a lawyer. The lawyer may handle the gathering of evidence and the negotiating of a settlement while you focus on recuperating.