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AAA study looks into drowsy driving

People in California who fall asleep at the wheel are not in a small minority. According to a new AAA survey, about 43 percent of licensed U.S. drivers answered 'yes" when they were asked whether they had ever fallen asleep while driving. About 31 percent of drivers who were surveyed said that they had struggled to stay awake while they were driving sometime during the previous month.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attempted to draw attention to drowsy driving statistics during National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. At the Asleep at the Wheel forum in Washington, D.C., a NHTSA spokesman pointed out the high incidence of fatigue in major car accident investigations. Twenty percent of all major National Transportation Safety Board investigations between 2001 and 2012 and 39.5 percent of all major highway investigations by the agency during that time period involved fatigue. A 2010 AAA study found that about one-sixth of all fatal car accidents had fatigue as a factor.

Young drivers may be more likely to drive drowsy than older drivers, according to the more recent AAA survey. Nearly 40 percent of drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 said that they had driven while drowsy at least once during the previous month.

A sleep-deprived driver who causes an accident that injures others may end up as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. After such an accident, car crash victims typically pursue financial compensation to cover their medical costs, lost income and property damage, among other amounts. A personal injury attorney can often be of assistance to an injured victim in such a situation.

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