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Dangers of Drowsy Driving Revealed in Real World Experiment

by on December 1, 2014

According to statistics from the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving is the culprit behind roughly 1,550 deaths every year in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigued drivers are responsible for causing 100,000 vehicle accidents annually– seriously injuring some 71,000 people.

Phoenix car accident lawyers at Wattel & York second industry experts who widely recognize that traffic accidents caused by drowsy driving are seriously underreported, despite a spate of recent high-profile collisions, such as the one that nearly killed comedian and actor Tracy Morgan. In June of last year, a Walmart truck driver who had been on the road for more than 24 hours straight struck Morgan’s vehicle, killing one of the passengers and sending the 30 Rock star to the hospital.

Excessive fatigue and driving is a potentially lethal combination. While most motorists are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, sleepiness is rarely on anyone’s radar. But just like alcohol and drugs, sleepiness diminishes reaction time, dulls awareness, and significantly increases your chance of an accident.

Experiment highlights the dangers of drowsy driving

To further illuminate the hazards of drowsy driving, NBC investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen decided to test his driving abilities when well rested and sleep deprived to compare the two. The results: a dramatic difference in reaction time, awareness and overall safety. Rossen performed his real-world experiment on an obstacle course at a Connecticut driving school, where he aced the course while wide awake, deftly pulling off lane changes and quick right turns without knocking over a cone.

To demonstrate the effects of sleep deprivation, Rossen then stayed awake for 30 hours straight before attempting the obstacle course a second time. Though he felt a little sleepy, Rossen said “Actually, I feel fine. I feel like this is the kind of situation that a lot of people drive in. Maybe I could too.” Rossen knocked over several cones – each of which represented a crash – and failed the course badly.

A video of his driving tests was watched by sleep authority, Dr. Charles Czeisler of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who after watching the second version of the test, concluded: “He’s certainly impaired and is struggling to stay awake, and at any moment could lose that struggle.” Czeisler cautions that part of the brain can actually be asleep while another part of the brain remains awake, which can impair split-second judgments when behind the wheel. His sentiments are echoed by the medical community as well. One night of missed sleep is the same as being legally drunk, warn doctors.

Help pursuing an Arizona drowsy driving accident lawsuit

If you or a loved one was harmed in a collision caused by a drowsy driver in Arizona, you may be entitled to compensation. Wattel & York attorneys at law will examine the facts of your case to determine if your legal rights have been infringed by the negligence of another.

Despite the known hazards of drowsy driving, it is often difficult to prove that another driver is too fatigued to be behind the wheel. Truck drivers must carry logs that are helpful in establishing sleep patterns, but there are still negligence laws that can hold Phoenix drowsy drivers responsible for any injuries or deaths that they cause.  With the aid of a knowledgeable Arizona drowsy driving accident lawyer, victims can make a claim against the negligent party to collect damages for lost income, medical expenses, emotional trauma, and pain and suffering.

Contact a Phoenix highway accident attorney at Wattel & York at 1-877-225-5562 to discuss your case at no cost to you.

Resources:

  1. NHTSA, Research on Drowsy Driving http://www.nhtsa.gov/Research/Crash+Avoidance/Distraction
  2. Today Health, Dramatic experiment shows deadly danger of drowsy driving http://www.today.com/health/drowsy-driving-dramatic-experiment-reveals-deadly-danger-1D80283114

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