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20 percent of accidents involve drowsy driving

Data collected by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, indicates that over one-fifth of fatal accidents involve driver fatigue. As safety experts have suspected for a long time, the incidences of drowsy driving are much higher than indicated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's official statistics.

The chief executive officer and president of the Foundation warned that the research on drowsy driving confirmed the seriousness of the traffic safety problem, saying, "Unfortunately, drivers often underestimate this risk and overestimate their ability to combat drowsiness behind the wheel."

The report revealed that a third of wrecks involving drowsy drivers resulted in injuries. Annually, more than 6,000 crashes related to fatigue cause at least one fatality.

Prior Foundation research showed those in the 19-24 age range are the drivers who most readily admit to drowsy driving. A full third report driving while fatigued at least once in the month preceding the survey. At opposite ends of the spectrum, those 75 and older and the youngest group of drivers -- those 16 to 18 -- were the least likely age groups to self-report this practice.

Below are some warning signs of driving while fatigued:

-- Inability to remember driving the last few miles

-- Difficulty with your eyes staying open or focusing

-- Wandering or disconnected thought patterns

-- Missing traffic signs

-- Driving on the road's rumble strips

-- Drifting out of your lane

-- Feeling like your head is heavy

-- Tailgating other vehicles accidentally

-- Repeatedly yawning

Drivers experiencing one or more of the above signs of fatigue are advised to locate a safe spot to pull over and take a short nap.

If you have suffered injuries in an accident with a drowsy driver, you may be forced to pursue legal options in order to receive financial compensation.

Source: AAA, "More than One-in-Five Fatal Crashes Involve Drowsy Drivers," Erin Stepp, accessed Nov. 20, 2015

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