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How big of a problem is drowsy driving in the United States?

It's not uncommon to want more sleep. And for many West Virginia residents, lack of sleep can be detrimental to their personal and professional lives. While being tired at work or during a child's soccer game is unlikely to result in major consequences, being tired behind the wheel of a motor vehicle can be dangerous for the driver, their passengers, and other travelers on or near the road. Whether it is during the night or the day, drowsy driving could be the cause of a serious or fatal car crash.

But how big of a problem is drowsy driving in the United States? While accident investigators look for certain indications that indicate a drowsy driver caused a car accident, these clues are not always identifiable or conclusive. Because of that, it is difficult to estimate how many fatal motor vehicle accidents are caused by driver drowsiness.

Nonetheless, recent reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 846, or 2.6 percent, of all accident fatalities occurring in 2014 were caused by a drowsy driver. Over the past decade, the number of fatalities caused by drowsy driving has remained relatively constant. Between the years of 2005 and 2009, it was reported that roughly 83,000 drowsy driving accidents occurred each year.

Drowsy driving is considered a form of impairment and negatively affects a driver's ability to operate his or her vehicle safely. Drowsy driving does not just include falling asleep while behind the wheel, as it also pertains to the impairment of alertness, attention, reaction time, judgment, and decision-making. Driving while drowsy could be considered a form of negligent driving, and if a drowsy driver causes a collision, he or she could be held liable for their negligence.

A personal injury claim could help accident victims hold drowsy drivers responsible for the damages suffered. Taking such legal action could help a victim recover compensation, offsetting financial burdens related to the incident, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Source:, "Research on Drowsy Driving," accessed May 9, 2016

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