Report shows drowsiness leads to accidents

Drowsy driving leads to accidents in Texas and other states around the country. A report, developed by the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and the National Highway Safety Administration, found that drowsy driving is especially prevalent among males 16 to 29, employees working late-night shifts and people with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. According to the report, these individuals often don't take measures to avoid the accident, drive between the hours of midnight and 6 p.m., are in cars by themselves and travel on high-speed roads and highways.

According to the report, car accidents frequently occur because of sleep loss, disruption of normal sleep patterns and undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorders. Police reports from 1996 show that there were 56,000 crashes resulting from "fatigue" and "drowsiness." The related panel looking at driving behaviors found that rumble strips help to act as an alarm for drivers, but they cannot prevent accidents for frequent drowsy drivers.

Drowsiness isn't always recorded on police reports because it can be difficult to detect in some drivers. Unlike breath and blood tests used for alcohol level, no exam exists for police officers to measure sleepiness in drivers. Certain behaviors, such as driving off the road, can alert them to drowsiness, but ultimately detection of sleepiness is up to the discretion of police officers.

Drivers in Texas who have been injured or family members who lost loved ones because of drowsy drivers could potentially bring a lawsuit for damages resulting from lost wages, emotional pain and suffering, funeral costs or medical expenses. Under Texas law, drivers have two years to bring a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident. An attorney with experience with personal injury law may be able to help clients to gather evidence to support that the other driver was operating a motor vehicle when fatigued.

Source: National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, "Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes," accessed on March 30, 2015

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