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Driver fatigue an understated cause of car accidents

In Montana and throughout the nation, it is known how dangerous it is to drive drunk. A drunk driving accident can cause injury and death. Alcohol causes drivers to lose reaction time, have impaired judgment and more. However, another issue that is considered at least as dangerous than drunk driving is drowsy driving. Understanding the possibility that a driver was falling asleep at the wheel can be a key component to a legal filing after a car collision.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that driving tired can be just as risky as drunk driving. The report from AAA was released in December 2016. It says that approximately 21 percent of fatal car accidents are linked to a driver who was drowsy. Drivers who get five or six hours of sleep in a 24-hour time frame are two times as likely to be in an accident as drivers who get a minimum of seven hours of sleep. For every hour of sleep that is missed, the chance of a crash rises.

In Montana, a 2016 annual report from the State Highway Patrol says that drivers who were operating their vehicle while drowsy were connected to almost 400 accidents for the year. There were 11 fatalities. A doctor who specializes in sleep medicine says that drivers should get an entire night of sleep before driving. If necessary, they should stop their vehicles and take a brief nap before driving again. The maximum time for the nap should be 20 minutes as it can be difficult to wake up completely with a longer rest. Afternoons between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. are the most common times at which drivers become sleepy, even if they are on a normal sleep schedule. Since driving is redundant, it is an activity that lends itself to becoming drowsy and this must be accounted for when on the road.

For people who are in an auto accident, one issue that is often overlooked is whether the other driver was drowsy. Since any crash can lead to medical expenses, lost time at work and death, those who have been involved in a collision should keep every possible cause in mind. Discussing a legal case with an attorney after a car accident is imperative in the aftermath.

Source: abcfoxmontana.com, "Drowsy driving: It can be just as dangerous as drunk driving," Jenna Heberden, July 21, 2017

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