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The dangers of sleep deprivation

Because sleep-deprived drivers can face the same dangers as drunk or distracted driving, Texas drivers who get less than seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period might think twice about the next time they get behind the wheel.

Traffic safety experts are warning people not to get behind the wheel of a car if they are sleep deprived. According to findings from the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who get five or six hours of sleep within a 24-hour time frame are two times more likely to have a wreck as drivers who have gotten at least seven hours of sleep. The rate climbs even higher with the less sleep a driver gets, according to the study.

Data for the study was based on the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. The survey relied on police-reported vehicle accidents that involved medical emergency personnel and where at least one automobile was towed from the scene of the accident. Drivers in these scenarios were questioned about how many hours of sleep they had within the 24-hour period before the accident.

According to the study, a drowsy driver was to blame for roughly 20 percent of all deadly auto wrecks on America's roadways. In 2015, there were more than 35,000 auto crash fatalities, which was more than a seven percent increase from 2014. More than one of every three American citizens is not getting regular quality sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Based on the factor of negligence, a person who falls asleep at the wheel and causes injury to another person may have to pay for damages if the injured party files a civil claim. Police reports, witness accounts and medical evaluations could all serve as evidence in the case.

Source: NPR, "Drivers Beware: Crash Rate Spikes With Every Hour Of Lost Sleep", Allison Aubrey, December 6, 2016

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