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Driving while drowsy may cause fatal accidents

West Virginia motorists may not realize how dangerous driving while drowsy can be, but a recent AAA survey found that around 43 percent of drivers admitted they had fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in their lives. A representative from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spoke at a forum on Nov. 4 in conjunction with National Driving Drowsy Prevention Week and reported that about 5,000 to 7,000 fatalities take place annually due to fatigued drivers.

Among major NTSB highway investigations from 2001 to 2012, fatigue was a factor in almost 40 percent of the accidents, and it was an element in about one out of every five major investigations overall. In 2010, AAA estimated that driving while drowsy caused about 16.5 percent of fatal accidents.

The newer AAA survey identified the 19 to 24 age group as the most likely to drive while drowsy with nearly 40 percent saying that in the past month they had driven while fatigued. Overall, 31.5 percent of drivers reported driving while drowsy in the previous month.

Accidents caused by driving while fatigued may lead to catastrophic injury or even death. Individuals may face long recovery periods, and the accident may be life-changing if it results in brain injury or paralysis. Injured victims may be unable to return to work for a long period of time or may never be able to work again at the previous level. Insurance claims might return unsatisfactory results if the other driver was underinsured or if the insurance company offers insufficient compensation. In these circumstances, the injured victim may want to speak to an attorney about filing a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages from the at-fault motorist.

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