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The impact of drowsy driving on motor vehicle accidents

Most responsible drivers in Wyoming probably wouldn't get behind the wheel while intoxicated. However, this isn't the only type of impairment that can affect driving abilities. Being excessively sleepy can be just as dangerous, and it's not a rare occurrence. Half of all adult drivers in the United States confess that they regularly take to the road while feeling fatigued, according to the American Sleep Foundation. In addition, 20 percent of the motorists surveyed said that they had fallen asleep while driving within the past year. Such stats emphasis the impact of drowsiness on driving.

Drowsy driving has the potential to contribute to a car accident much like what can happen when people are driving while under the influence of alcohol. Driving when going for at least 20 hours without sleep is equal to driving with a blood-alcohol concentration) of .08 percent, the legal limit for DUI in most states. Some fatigued drivers experience short bursts of inattention referred to as "micro sleep." If driving on the highway, a driver could travel the length of a football field while experiencing a brief micro sleep instance of just four to five seconds.

Contributing to approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes each year, driving while tired slows reaction times and decreases awareness of nearby hazards. Fatigued drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a vehicle crash than their well-rested counterparts. While anyone may be affected by drowsy driving, half of all crashes where driver fatigue is a factor involve drivers 25 and under.

It may be possible to prevent distracted driving due to fatigue with crash avoidance technology that warns drivers who are nodding off and driving erratically. If driver fatigue does result in or contribute to an accident, an attorney may look at evidence such as the negligent party's medical history and whether they have had previous issues with inattentive or impaired driving.

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