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Drowsy driving is a major cause of accidents nationwide

Every day, we hear about how distracted driving is responsible for countless accidents on the roadways. But there is another common cause of accidents that we don't pay as much attention to. The AAA Foundation estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for an average of 328,000 car accidents each year. In a survey by the AAA Foundation, 43.2 percent of drivers admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives.

Drowsy driving is difficult to diagnose and drowsy drivers may be afraid to report their sleepiness after an accident. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that drowsy driving has caused a minimum of 72,000 accidents from 2009 to 2013. These crashes caused approximately 800 deaths and 41,000 injuries.

Studies have shown that drowsy driving is very similar to driving under the influence of alcohol. Drowsiness results in slower reaction times, failure to observe the road and closing of the eyes. A report by the Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that a blood alcohol level of .08 percent is equivalent to being awake for 21 hours. A blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent is considered drunken driving in all states including Louisiana.

If a driver is too drowsy to drive safely, then he or she should not be behind the wheel. If a drowsy driver injures someone else on the road due to his or her negligence, then that driver can be held liable. After an accident, it's important to investigate the circumstances of the crash, including the condition of the driver at the time of the accident. The injured and their families can talk to an attorney about their legal options.

Source: USA Today, "Report: Drowsy driving is a sleeper threat in crashes," Bart Jansen, Aug. 8, 2016

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