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The effect of sleepiness on motor vehicle accidents

As many California drivers may know, drowsiness is capable of producing inattention and lead to car crashes. Sleepiness may be clearly documented using police records and accident reconstruction reports. According to a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Institutes of Healthsleepy drivers are shown to have a decreased reaction time. The decision-making process declines as does short-term memory. A sleepy driver may have a decreased sense of vigilance, making him or her less inclined to note changing or hazardous circumstances on the road.

Lacking definitive tests to document sleepiness, investigators rely instead on crash characteristics. Many times, a sleep-deprived driver causes a motor vehicle accident during nighttime hours when sleep normally occurs. In addition, the accidents generally are serious since high speed is often involved.

Other aspects include the fact that the driver is usually the sole occupant of the vehicle when the crash occurs. If other occupants are in the vehicle, the crash is less likely to occur, according to the study. Another feature of sleep-related crashes is that the vehicle usually leaves the road, but there is little evidence, such as skid marks, showing the driver attempted to brake before the crash occurred.

A driver who operates a motor vehicle having had little sleep may be considered negligent. Recognition of sleepiness and taking measures to avoid driving is something a prudent person would do. When another person is injured in a crash involving such a driver, that individual may suffer financial problems related to medical care and time lost at work. Consulting with a personal injury attorney to determine the remedies that are available may be advisable. The attorney can review the results of the accident investigation and, if appropriate, a personal injury lawsuit for the recovery of damages can be recommended.

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