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New Research Suggests Drowsiness Causes More Car Accidents than Previously Suspected

November 14, 2013

While federal traffic safety officials and the media have increasingly focused on the dangers posed by drowsy driving, a recent study suggest that drowsy driving may be a lot more widespread than the official numbers suggest. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that is used to collect official federal government data regarding fatal motor vehicle accident indicates that two percent of traffic-related fatalities are caused by a drowsy drivers who is fatigued or asleep behind the wheel.

Traffic safety experts and others have long suspected that drowsy driving fatality estimates are dramatically understated because of the difficulty in determining when drowsiness contributes to a car crash. The accuracy of FARS data is undermined by the inability of a driver who dies in an auto accident to indicate what caused the collision. While this is also true of drunk drivers and drivers using cell phones, law enforcement officials can check cell phone records and conduct blood alcohol concentration (BAC) chemical tests to obtain more accurate data regarding these causes of traffic-related fatalities.

According to Jurek Grabowski, the AAA Research Director, almost eighty percent of car accidents involve drowsiness as a suspected factor in causing the collision but not an official factor according to government data. A recent study by Grabowski that involved a more extensive statistical analysis of official data on fatal crashes revealed that the two percent estimate for fatal collisions is indeed extremely inaccurate. The researchers' concluded that almost twelve percent of motor vehicle fatalities are caused by drowsiness, and almost 17 percent of all collisions are caused by drivers who are too tired to drive safely.

While aggressive measures have been implemented to combat alcohol impaired driving in the form of stiffer sentences, increased investment in DUI enforcement, public awareness campaigns, zero tolerance policies for teen drivers and other methods, there has been no comparable effort to combat drowsy driving. Federal and state traffic safety agencies and officials also have taken steps to eliminate cell phone-related accidents. The failure to take a comparably aggressive approach to reduce the number of collisions and traffic deaths caused by sleepy drivers is misguided because sleep deprived drivers exhibit comparable levels of impaired driving as alcohol impaired drivers according to Dr. Elizabeth A. Baker, a regional administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Put Our Law Firm's Over 39 Years of Experience to Work For You

If you or someone you love is injured or a family member dies because of unsafe driving by a drowsy driver, our Atlanta auto accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.