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Study finds driver fatigue is a major factor in crashes

While truck drivers who might be operating their vehicles under the influence, are distracted, or are reckless pose a substantial threat, new research is showing that drowsy drivers are a bigger problem than was previously thought. With trucks, this is a known worry because of the time they spend on the road.

A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that the U.S. government estimates for drowsy driving accidents was far from accurate. AAA monitored vehicles by using cameras inside the vehicles as well as other equipment. More than 3,500 drivers were studied across the nation. The study found that drowsiness was an issue in between 8.8 percent and 9.5 percent of the more than 700 accidents that occurred. In approximately 11 percent of accidents with major property damage, the deployment of airbags or injuries, drowsiness was a factor.

The U.S. government had thought as few as 1 to 2 percent of the accidents were due to drowsy driving. The flaw in the government statistics is that the numbers rely on investigations after the accident has occurred, making the accuracy questionable. Drowsy driving does not reach the scope of distracted driving and DUI, but it is a bigger problem than was commonly believed. In its study, AAA used "PERCLOS" - a method of assessing how long a driver had their eyes closed while driving. This is indicative as to a driver being drowsy.

Because studies show how lack of sleep can impair driving, this is a worrisome problem for truckers. They spend an extensive amount of time on the road and are under mandate to get their load to its destination within a certain time frame. Although regulations designed to improve safety center on limiting the amount of time truck drivers can spend on the road without rest, that does not automatically mean they will be immune to truck driver fatigue. When there is a crash, it can spark massive medical expenses, lost wages and death. People who have been injured or lost a loved one because of truck accidents should be cognizant of truck driver fatigue. A lawyer can assist with an investigation and help move forward with a case.

Source: cnn.com, "Drowsy driving is a factor in almost 10% of crashes, study finds," Erin Gabriel, Feb. 8, 2018

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