Study: Drowsy drivers pose a deadly risk on West Virginia roads

Based on the findings of one study, drowsiness-related accidents are an all too common occurrence that often lead to serious injuries or death.

Most people in West Virginia are aware that falling asleep while driving is dangerous. However, many fail to recognize that it is also hazardous to get behind the wheel when they are fatigued or overly tired. Based on a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy driving collisions occur all too often. Such accidents may result in serious injuries or death for the drowsy drivers themselves, as well as for any other motorists, passengers or bystanders.

Estimating the prevalence of drowsiness-related collisions

For the study, a group of researchers analyzed the data from a sample of 14,268 auto accidents that occurred across the U.S. between 2009 and 2013. They assessed the drivers' pre-crash attentiveness based on law enforcement's accident reports and interviews with drivers and others who were involved. The motorists' attention at the time of their collisions were coded as attentive, distracted, drowsy, looked but did not see and unknown. In order to approximate how many drivers whose attentiveness was undetermined were actually overly tired at the time of their wrecks, the researchers used the method of multiple imputation.

Why is drowsy driving dangerous?

Much of the drowsy driving problem in West Virginia is due to people not understanding how fatigue and being overly tired may affect their bodies. Drowsiness may cause a number of impairments, however, some of which are similar to those caused by the consumption of alcoholic beverages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the effects of drowsiness on drivers include the following:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Delayed reactions to situations requiring sudden steering or braking
  • Decreased attentiveness

The effects of fatigue and sleepiness may be enhanced by the use of some medications or by consuming alcohol. Due to these impairments, people's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle may be compromised, which may increase their likelihood of being involved in an auto accident.

Drowsy drivers put themselves, others in danger

Based on the study's findings, drowsiness-related collisions are a common occurrence. The study showed drowsy drivers contributed to 21 percent of the fatal crashes and 13 percent of the accidents resulting in injuries that required hospitalization. When applied to all auto wrecks, the study's findings suggest that drowsiness plays a part in 6,400 collisions resulting in death and 109,000 injury accidents each year.

The study's results significantly exceed the government reported statistics. Drowsiness contributed to 2.6 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The difference between the reported statistics and those determined by the study could be due to any number of factors, such as poor reporting of drowsiness and difficulties determining a motorist's level of fatigue.

Pursuing financial compensation

As a result of injuries suffered in drowsy driving accidents, people in West Virginia may require medical treatment and time off of work to heal. Consequently, they may incur unexpected medical bills and lose income, potentially complicating an already difficult time. Thus, those who have been injured in drowsiness-related collisions may benefit from consulting with a legal representative. An attorney may explain their rights and help them determine how best to proceed given their situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:Do I have to pay for hiring experts, depositions, and other expenses of getting my case to trial?

A:At Cyrus & Adkins, we will advance all costs necessary for the development and presentation of your case. In the event of a successful recovery, whether by settlement or verdict, these necessary costs and expenses are reimbursable to our firm.

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