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Drivers struggling to stay awake major safety problem

During National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, an administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlighted the problem of drivers falling asleep. Agency estimates place the number of deaths in accidents caused by sleepy drivers at between 5,000 and 7,000 every year nationwide, and people in Colorado are not immune to the high rate of fatigue and sleepiness plaguing U.S. drivers.

A survey recently conducted by AAA asked people if they had ever fallen asleep at the wheel. Their responses showed that 43 percent of them had experienced this at least once. Statistics gathered by the National Transportation Safety Board supported this finding. Investigations performed by the NTSB blamed fatigue in 39.5 percent of major highway accidents between 2000 and 2012.

An earlier AAA study from 2010 looked specifically at fatal motor vehicle accidents, and 16.5 percent of them resulted from drowsy driving. Certain demographic groups are more susceptible to sleepiness on the road than others. The more recent AAA survey found nearly 40 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 24 reported trouble keeping their eyes open on the road in the previous month. When all age groups were taken together, close to one-third of the surveyed drivers admitted to drowsy driving in the previous month.

People who have been injured in a car accident caused by a drowsy or otherwise negligent driver often face high medical expenses, and in some cases their financial situation is worsened by being unable to work during their recovery periods. Such a victim may want to obtain the assistance of a personal injury attorney in seeking compensation from the at-fault motorist for the losses that have been sustained.

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