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Sleepy drivers the subject of new AAA study

Though drivers in California are probably aware that drowsy driving is a danger, they may not know that the less sleep people get, the more their behavior behind the wheel can mimic those of drunk drivers. Fatigue is an especially recurrent factor in transit accidents as bus and taxi drivers and train conductors may become overworked.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has just published a study suggesting that close to 10 percent of all car accidents involve drowsiness. This is at odds with current statistics based on police reports and post-crash investigations, which state that 1 to 2 percent of automobile crashes involve drowsiness.

AAA researchers came to their conclusion after monitoring over 3,500 drivers for several months between October 2010 and December 2013. Using in-vehicle cameras and other equipment, they could roughly determine when drivers were sleepy and measure that sleepiness based on the PERCLOS (percentage of eye closure) measure, which was a first for a study the authors claim. After studying the 701 crashes involving the monitored drivers, they concluded that 8.8 to 9.5 of the accidents were caused by drowsiness.

Unlike with these researchers, however, police officers have no definite way to measure drowsiness. Drivers who are involved in an accident may deny that they were drowsy. This influences the police reports and gives the impression that the issue is less prevalent than it is.

Costa Mesa auto accident injury lawyers understand that drowsiness is hard to detect, but they can still pursue claims on their clients' behalf as long as there is proof that the other driver committed negligent actions. Attorneys usually have an in-house team of investigators who can gather such evidence for them. Accident victims can start by requesting a case assessment. The lawyer will then determine if there was any contributory negligence, which could lower the potential settlement, and negotiate for an out-of-court settlement once the paperwork is ready.

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