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Driver fatigue may be a factor in more car accidents than thought

People in Houma and nationwide do not always get as much sleep as they should. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 35 percent of motorists have not gotten at least seven hours of sleep nightly. Not getting enough sleep is a serious health and safety issue, particularly when it comes to driving.

According to a report by AAA, driver fatigue is a factor in almost eight times more serious car crashes than what the federal government alleges. In a study of 700 car crashes documented by dashboard recorders, AAA states that 9.5 percent of these collisions were due in part to driver fatigue. This is based on how long the motorists closed their eyes prior to the accident. According to the federal government, driver fatigue plays a role in only one to two percent of motor vehicle accidents.

Moreover, the AAA Foundation conducted a survey regarding driver fatigue. They found that 96 percent of motorists surveyed understood that driver fatigue was a danger. However, 29 percent of motorists surveyed stated that in the past month they experienced fatigue while driving.

When a motorist is fatigued, they may cross lanes without realizing it or they may have no memory of the previous few miles they drove. They may think that a strong cup of black coffee, singing along with the radio or rolling the window down for a breath of fresh air can combat fatigue. However, these actions are not effective against drowsy driving. AAA states that, on long drives, motorists should take regular breaks from the road every few hours, swap the task of driving with a passenger who has rested or pull over to a rest stop to take the time to catch about 20 minutes of sleep.

Despite the widely-held knowledge that driver fatigue is dangerous, people still take to the streets while tired. When their actions cause a car accident, an innocent person could be injured or killed. When that happens, the victim may wish to learn more about his or her rights, including the possibility of taking legal action against the fatigued driver who caused the crash.

Source: USA Today, "AAA: Drowsy driving plays larger role in accidents than federal statistics suggest," Bart Jansen, Feb. 8, 2018

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