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Drowsy driving a clear danger

Poorly rested drivers represent a source of danger on Pennsylvania roads. Citing figures gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association referred to tired drivers as an "extreme danger." The NHTSA has decided that sleepiness impairs driving abilities to an extent similar to drug use and drinking.

Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders are prevalent throughout the U.S. population. It is estimated that more than 80 million people drive while sleep-deprived on a daily basis around the country. Sleep disorders affect approximately 40 million people, and drowsy driving is associated with certain demographics. Over 50 percent of car accidents attributed to drowsiness include teen or young adult drivers. The demands of work also create risks. Long or irregular work hours and night shifts leave people tired when they get in their cars to go home from work.

The full picture about the effects of drowsy driving is difficult to see because law enforcement personnel lack training for identifying it and drivers might not report that they fell asleep. Their silence could be motivated by fears of being held liable for damages. Researchers estimate that dozing drivers caused the deaths of about 5,000 people in 2015.

Severe accidents can result when someone falls asleep at the wheel. A head-on collision could leave people with catastrophic injuries that require extensive and expensive medical care and treatment. An attorney representing an injured victim could demonstrate that the motorist was dozing off right before the crash through the use of eyewitness testimony and other evidence.

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