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Part II – Study: Fatigued drivers as dangerous as drunk drivers

Regular readers of our Lake Charles legal blog undoubtedly recall our recent post about the dangers posed to drivers by fatigued truckers. As we stated a few days ago, the most common cause of 18-wheeler crashes is sleep-deprived truck drivers.

A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study shows that drivers who get less than four hours of sleep are as dangerous as those who get behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.12 percent – equal to 1.5 times the legal limit.

Here in Louisiana, the legal limit is 0.08 percent. Drunk or sleep-deprived drivers have the same problems: inability to focus, poor judgment, and diminished coordination and reflexes.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reviewed more than 6,800 traffic accidents in which drivers had been interviewed by the federal government’s Department of Transportation. In addition to the findings previously noted, the new research also determined that people who have recently changed sleep habits or work schedules are about 30 percent more likely to cause a wreck.

“Any time we affect our circadian rhythm (the body's internal clock), we impact our sleep; the health consequences are quite large,” a doctor said.

A University of Alabama researcher said the new study indicates that not all sleep-related wrecks involve people who fall asleep at the wheel or momentarily doze off. “Judgment and decision making are highly impacted by poor sleep quantity and quality,” he told Reuters.

He said that drivers who have gotten an inadequate amount of rest should avoid the traditional attempts to fix their fatigue – rather than drinking coffee or turning the AC to high or cranking up the music, they should simply get some rest.

Those harmed by a fatigued driver should contact a Lake Charles attorney skilled in personal injury litigation.

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