Bowden Cyr, PLLC - Attorneys At Law

Study finds drowsy driving accident rate underestimated

People in Minnesota might be putting themselves in as much, or more, danger by driving while drowsy compared to getting behind the wheel when drunk. It has been difficult to establish the frequency of crashes related to drowsy driving because data often depends on self-reporting. However, a AAA study, which used different methods, estimates that drowsy driving factors into more than 9% of motor vehicle accidents. Over 50% of the drowsiness-related crashes took place after dark.

Government estimates have reported that drowsy driving causes 1% or 2% of auto accidents while National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates put the rate around 5%. Unlike previous studies, the AAA study used dashcam footage to determine whether a driver was struggling with drowsiness in the seconds before the crash. The study looked at driver behavior in the final one to three minutes before the accident occurred. If a driver's eyes closed 80% for 12% or more of the frames, this was considered drowsy driving.

There are steps people can take to avoid driving while drowsy. Individuals who feel themselves getting tired while behind the wheel should change drivers or pull over and try to take a brief nap if they are alone. Caffeine may help, but it takes around a half-hour to take effect. Drivers should also take regular breaks.

If an auto accident is caused by a driver who was drowsy or responsible for some other reason, that individual may be required to pay compensation to people who were injured in the accident. Usually, insurance companies cover this, but there may be situations in which a driver does not have adequate insurance, or the insurance company may not offer enough compensation. A lawyer may assist an injured person with filing a lawsuit against the person who caused the accident.

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