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Research associates drowsy driving with 6 percent of accidents

New York residents may be surprised to learn that government statistics concerning drowsy driving may not accurately reflect the true scale of the problem. According to official figures, drowsy driving plays a role in about 3 percent of road traffic accidents, but research conducted by the AAA Foundation suggests that the true number may be as high as 6 percent. AAA researchers looked into more than 21,000 crashes that occurred between 2009 and 2013, and they used methods designed to identify drowsy driving that had been overlooked by accident investigators and law enforcement officers.

Drowsy driving does not leave investigators with much in the way of physical evidence, and motorists are often reluctant to admit that they fell asleep at the wheel. To overcome these challenges, researchers used a method known as multiple imputation. The data used included police and accident reports, interviews with vehicle occupants and the severity of the injuries suffered by car accident victims.

The researchers believe that official statistics may significantly underestimate the prevalence of drowsy driving because NHTSA's 2008 National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey did not include data from accidents that occurred between midnight and 6:00 a.m. According to the revised estimates provided by the AAA, drowsy driving may be a factor in 6,400 fatal accidents every year in the United States.

Accidents involving a drowsy driver often occur at high speeds and give other road users little time to take evasive action, and the resulting injuries are often catastrophic in nature. Personal injury attorneys may be familiar with the difficulties involved in establishing that fatigue contributed to an accident, and they could use methods such as multiple imputation to determine that a motorist acted negligently. An attorney could also gather additional evidence such as footage recorded by security cameras in the vicinity of the accident.

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