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Studies show drowsy driving is similar to impaired driving

Most drivers in North Carolina and across the country would never drink and drive, but around half consistently drive while feeling drowsy, according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation. The study demonstrates how dire the nation's drowsy driving problem is.

The NSF study found that approximately 50% of all adult U.S. drivers say they repeatedly drive while drowsy. It also found that 20% of drivers admit that they've nodded off behind the wheel within the last 12 months. Another 40% admit to falling asleep while driving at some point in their lives. Research has found that drowsy driving can impair drivers just as much as a blood alcohol content level of .08, which above the legal limit in all 50 states.

In 2015, at least 5,000 people were killed in fatigue-related car accidents, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving leads to approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes each year. Meanwhile, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that drowsy driving causes around 328,000 total accidents annually, leading to around 6,400 deaths. There is a discrepancy in the numbers because it is difficult to measure how drowsy a driver was before a crash. Furthermore, not all law enforcement agencies record data on suspected drowsy driving accidents.

Drowsy driving can be even more serious than drunk driving. This is because, unlike some drunk drivers, a sleeping driver won't attempt to hit the brakes or steer away from a potential collision. Someone who has been injured by a drowsy driver could seek compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and property loss. An attorney could review a victim's case and help prepare a personal injury claim.

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