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Does drowsy driving cause car accidents?

Our Connecticut residents have likely heard a lot about distracted driving, don't text and drive enforcement initiatives and even seen commercials about not texting and driving. Most immediately think of cell phones when it comes to distracted driving. But, what many people may not know is that another type of driving that is just as dangerous and results in over a thousand fatalities and over 83,000 car crashes annually is drowsy driving.

To understand drowsy driving, it is important to look at the definition of distracted driving. Distracted driving is when the driver of a vehicle takes their attention away from the primary task of driving. This could include things such as eating, talking on the phone, updating Facebook, grooming and the like. Drowsy driving, on the other hand, is when the driver of a vehicle is too fatigued, tired or sleepy to drive.

Although drowsy driving can be looked at as a subset of distracted driving, drowsy driving is of unique concern. In its most recent traffic safety bulletin, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that annually about 2.2 to 2.6 percent of all car crash fatalities can be attributed to drowsy driving. However, the NHTSA acknowledges that these numbers are conservative estimates because drowsy driving accidents are generally underreported.

Furthermore, those injured in drowsy driving accidents are reluctant to admit that they fell asleep at the wheel or were too tired. Additionally, some drowsy drivers may have been killed and the exact cause of the accident could not be determined. When drivers decide to drive, part of their on-going obligation is to ensure that they are attentive behind the wheel and that they obey existing laws. Those injured in a car accident may want to have a personal injury lawyer examine the facts of their case.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Research on Drowsy Driving," Accessed April 27, 2015

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