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Study looks at drowsy driving and car accidents

Missouri motorists who drive when they are drowsy may be a bigger danger than some statistics have reported according to a study released on Feb. 8. The study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety between October 2010 and December 2013, found that out of 701 crashes examined, around 9 percent of them were due at least in part to drowsy driving. This is considerably higher than the 1 to 2 percent that is the government estimate. Of crashes that resulted in injury, significant property damage or airbag deployment, drowsy driving was a factor in more than 10 percent.

According to the study, despite the danger of drowsy driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving are even more dangerous. The Nonprofit Safety Council found that in 2013, cell phones were a factor in one-fifth of all motor vehicle accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost one-third of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2015 involved alcohol.

However, drowsy driving is still a significant problem. It can be difficult for law enforcement and other agencies to gather information on how often it leads to crashes since unlike driving under the influence, there is no test for drowsy driving. Instead, it is necessary to rely on drivers' admissions that they were fatigued. In fatal accidents, there may be no way to know.

Even in car accidents that are not fatal, a person can be seriously injured. The driver who is responsible for the accident, whether due to drowsiness or for some other reason, is also supposed to cover the injured person's medical expenses. However, the driver might be uninsured or under-insured, or the insurance company might dispute the injured person's claims or offer too little in compensation. Therefore, an injured person might want to contact an attorney to see if filing a lawsuit would be advisable.

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