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Drowsy drivers the subject of new AAA study

Illinois drivers may be aware of the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving, but another hazard they should know more about is drowsy driving. A 2012 study from JAMA Internal Medicine found that drivers who go without sleep for 20 to 25 hours function in ways that are similar to drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1; the legal limit in the United States is 0.08. In other words, sleepy drivers operate their vehicles like drunk drivers.

U.S. government statistics show that 1 to 2 percent of all crashes involve drowsiness. However, because there is no clear way to measure drowsiness and many drivers who get in a crash don't realize that they were drowsy or don't mention it, the percentage may be higher.

A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety provides more accurate information. Using in-vehicle cameras and other equipment, researchers analyzed the actions of over 3,500 drivers between October 2010 and December 2013. The subjects of the study were involved in 701 crashes with 8.8 to 9.5 percent of them caused by drowsiness.

Sleepiness influenced approximately 10.7 percent of crashes that resulted in serious property damage, injuries or airbag deployment. Researchers also discovered that the proportion of drowsy driving accidents was three times greater in the nighttime.

The victims of negligent drivers may be eligible for compensatory damages under personal injury law. Determining that the defendant was drowsy may require the skills of a lawyer with a team of investigators. If necessary, the accident scene might have to be reconstructed. A lawyer may use this information to calculate a reasonable settlement and then negotiate for it with the defendant's car insurance company. If the company refuses to pay, the plaintiff may be able to litigate with the lawyer's assistance.

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