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AAA releases sobering report about drowsy driving

Drivers in New York and around the country who hope to reach their destinations unscathed should make sure that they get plenty of sleep before setting out according to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The study, which was published on Dec. 6, found that the likelihood of a crash increases as fatigue levels grow, and the research group claims that motorists who sleep for only four or five hours before driving are as likely to crash as those who take drugs or consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

The problem of drowsy driving is a serious one that experts fear will only get worse in coming years. Research has found that about one in three Americans sleep for less than seven hours each night, and the low gas prices that have led to higher levels of traffic and increased accident fatalities are expected to persist for the foreseeable future.

Even an extra hour or two of sleep can make a big difference on the roads. Drivers who sleep for five or six hours crash at rates about double those of rested motorists, but those who get behind the wheel after sleeping for only four or five hours are involved in car accidents about four times as often. Motorists can lower their chances of crashing by taking naps before setting out. Accident rates return to normal when drivers have slept for seven hours or more during the previous 24 hours, according to the AAA research team.

Car accident lawsuits are generally filed against negligent motorists, but this may not always be an option when fatigue is involved as sleep-deprived drivers are often killed in the accidents they cause. In such a situation, personal injury attorneys may initiate litigation on behalf of crash victims against the deceased motorist's insurance company or estate.

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