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Study finds drowsy drivers cause large number of accidents every year

For anyone who has had to commute by car in and around Boston, the hazards of driving while fatigued are probably familiar. Drowsy drivers are a serious danger on our roads. According to a new study, they are the cause of a much larger number of motor vehicle accidents across the country than was previously understood.

In the past, fatigued motorists were believed to be the cause of between just two to three percent of all auto accidents in the U.S. Recently, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted a study that revealed that drowsy drivers are actually responsible for more like 20 percent of all motor vehicle accidents across the country.

In conducting the study, researchers provided over 100 commuters with vehicles installed with video cameras and sensors. The technology was used to detect when participants were fatigued and when accidents or near-accidents occurred.

During the course of the study, the participants were involved in 82 motor vehicle accidents and 761 near-accidents. Of the over 100 study participants, 38 were involved in either an accident or near-accident caused by exhaustion. In addition, a small number of drivers were responsible for a large number of incidents related to fatigue. The results of the study found that 58 percent of the accidents and near-accidents involving fatigue were caused by just 11 drowsy drivers.

When someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drowsy driver, he or she may be entitled to damages because of the harm caused. In such cases, consulting with a qualified legal professional will ensure the injured party's rights are protected.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Driver Fatigue Causes 20% of Auto Crashes: Study," Susan Trulove, April 15, 2013.

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