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Drowsy drivers caused about 5,000 deaths in 2015

West Virginia residents might be surprised to learn that roughly 5,000 people died in 2015 because of a drowsy driver, according to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The report also noted that the there is not enough information to show the full extent of this dilemma.

Unlike driving under the influence of alcohol, drowsy driving is difficult for police to identify and combat, and with the fact that more than 83 million motorists who drive daily are sleep deprived, enforcement training and laws may need to be improved. Further, whenever drowsy drivers cause an accident, they may not admit it because of the penalties they fear they will receive.

Because of the serious danger sleep-deprived drivers pose, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now listing drowsy driving as a driving impairment to be included with distracted, drugged and drunk driving. The report included a chart, which compared sleep deprivation with blood alcohol concentration levels. For example, a driver who goes 21 hours without sleep is similar to a driver whose blood alcohol content level is .08 percent. Likewise, going 24 hours without sleep puts a driver in the same danger as a person who has a blood alcohol content of .10 percent.

The study also found that those who are at the highest dangers for drowsy driving are young adults and teenagers. In fact, this age group represents more than 50 percent of all motor vehicle accidents caused by a sleep-deprived driver. Others who are at risk for drowsy driving are overnight shift workers and those who have a sleep disorder.

People who get behind the wheel and cause an accident because they fell asleep can be held liable for damages. Those who were injured because of the actions of a negligent driver might want to have an attorney's assistance in seeking compensation.

Source: Forbes, "Around 5,000 People Were Killed Last Year Due to Drowsy Driving", Tanya Mohn, Aug. 8, 2016

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