In California and the rest of the U.S., drowsy driving is a major hazard. A CDC study reports that more than a third of adults in America get less than the typically recommended seven hours of sleep a night. U.S. government statistics say that only 1 to 2 percent of crashes are caused by drowsy driving, making it considerably less dangerous than DUI or distracted driving. However, a new study says the percentage may actually be higher.
The study was conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and involved over 3,500 drivers across the country. Over several months between October 2010 and December 2013, researchers monitored drivers' actions through in-vehicle cameras and other equipment. They also determined levels of drowsiness using the PERCLOS measure, which is based on the percentage of eye closure. Authors state that this study is the first ever to utilize PERCLOS.
During the four-year period, 701 crashes were reported among the subjects. Researchers found that 8.8 to 9.5 percent of them were due to drowsiness. There are several reasons why the percentage is higher than the reports from the U.S. government. For example, police officers have no way to measure drowsiness like they do with drunkenness. Furthermore, drivers may hide the fact that they were drowsy from police. As a result, the police reports and post-crash investigations, on which government statistics are based, become misleading.
A car accident victim may have the grounds for filing an injury claim even if it can't be proven that the at-fault driver was drowsy. An attorney could bring in investigators to show that the other driver made certain maneuvers out of negligence, which could qualify the victim for compensation. A successful settlement can cover damages like vehicle repair costs, medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.