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Fatigue while driving may lead to fatal accidents

On Aug. 8, the Governors Highway Safety Association released a report that estimated that about 5,000 deaths in 2015 were because of motor vehicle accidents related to driving while drowsy. However, drivers in South Carolina and other states may not be aware of the dangers of driving while fatigued, and experts say that educating the public is critical.

About 83.6 million sleep-deprived drivers are behind the wheel each day, and many of them are teenagers, young adults, people who workk long hours and night shift workers. It is difficult to track the true cost of drowsy driving because after an accident, people generally do not want to report that they were sleepy and no protocol exists for law enforcement to identify fatigue as a cause for an accident.

Motor vehicle accident fatalities rose by 7.7 percent in 2015 from the previous year, and according to safety advocates, reducing the number of drowsy drivers on the road is an important part of making those roads safer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration added drowsy driving to its definition of impaired driving alongside distracted drivers and drivers operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Recommendations in the GHSA report included better data collection, improved law enforcement training and informing teens and other drivers about the dangers of driving while fatigued.

Car accidents that occur as a result of drowsy driving may result in serious injuries to passengers, occupants of other cars, or pedestrians. Those who have been harmed as a result of such negligent behavior may want to have the help of an attorney in seeking compensation from the at-fault motorist for their losses.

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