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AAA reveals surprising frequency of drowsy driving

With more than a third of American adults getting less than seven hours of sleep a day, according to the CDC, it's no surprise that drowsy driving is an issue. What drivers in California, and elsewhere in the U.S., may not realize is that drowsy driving is currently an underreported issue. The most recent statistics show that drowsiness causes 1 to 2 percent of all crashes, but the percentage is arguably higher.

This is the claim of a study just published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In it, researchers monitored, via cameras and other equipment, the actions of more than 3,500 drivers for several months. They measured how long drivers closed their eyes because this PERCLOS measure, as it is called, indicates fatigue and lapses in attention. Researchers then studied the crash history of these drivers between October 2010 and December 2013.

Out of the 701 crashes that occurred, 8.8 to 9.5 percent were attributed by the researchers to drowsy driving. Out of the crashes that resulted in airbag deployment, property damage, or injuries, 10.6 to 10.8 percent were attributed to sleepiness.

The reason why the number is higher is that the lower statistics are based on sometimes unreliable data: namely, police reports and post-crash investigations. Outside of camera footage, there is no definite proof for drowsiness that officers can rely on.

Anyone who suffers personal injuries or vehicle damage in an accident may want to consider getting legal representation. A lawyer may be able to assess the claim and hire investigators, photographers, and other third parties to find proof of the other driver's negligence. It is a secondary issue whether that oversight was the result of fatigue or something else. After the paperwork is ready, the lawyer may proceed to negotiations with the auto insurance company. Failing to achieve an informal settlement, the lawyer can then help the client litigate.

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