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Study says drowsiness could be behind 10 percent of crashes

Drowsiness is a danger that most drivers in West Virginia understand. However, it is rarely thought of at the same level as drunk and distracted driving. A new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety may go a long way toward correcting such assumptions.

Between October 2010 and December 2013, researchers monitored over 3,500 drivers with in-vehicle cameras and other equipment. With the help of that footage and the PERCLOS measure, which determines level of alertness based on how long drivers keep their eyes closed, researchers determined that 8.8 to 9.5 percent of the 701 studied crashes were related to drowsiness.

Sleepiness also contributed to 10.6 to 10.8 percent of those crashes that resulted in serious property damage, injuries or airbag deployment. By way of contrast, government statistics have found that only 1 to 2 percent of all crashes are caused by drowsiness. Since such statistics are based almost entirely on police reports, they come with several limitations. For example, officers have no way outside of camera footage to determine if a driver was drowsy, and drivers themselves may deny or not recognize their own drowsiness.

Drowsy driving is a form of negligence. Therefore, when tired motorists cause automobile accidents, they could be held liable for damages. Victims, for their part, may want to consult with a lawyer. Personal injury lawyers usually work with experts in the field of accident investigation, and they can find the necessary proof that a defendant was negligent. Lawyers can negotiate for a settlement on the plaintiff's behalf.

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