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AAA report links drowsiness with higher crash risks

Kentucky residents may be wise to ensure that they sleep for at least seven hours before getting behind the wheel according to a study published on Dec. 6 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Researchers found that motorists who slept for only four or five hours are involved in accidents about four times as often as fully rested drivers. Even drivers who have gotten five or six hours of sleep crash about twice as often.

About one in five fatal car accidents in the United States involves a drowsy driver, and experts worry that a surge in traffic levels fueled by low gas prices and improving economic conditions will make the nation's roads even more hazardous in the years ahead. Motor vehicle accident fatalities fell for several years before increasing by 7.2 percent between 2104 and 2015.

Studies have found that about a third of Americans do not sleep enough, and fatigue has been linked to depression and obesity as well as increased driving risks. Experts recommend nap breaks for drowsy drivers.

Fatigued driving is especially dangerous because drowsy motorists rarely reduce speed or take emergency action before crashing, which can leave the other people on the road becoming catastrophically injured and unable to work. Personal injury attorneys may seek damages for lost income when filing lawsuits on their behalf. When drowsy drivers are killed in the car accidents they cause, attorneys may initiate litigation against their estates on behalf of those who have been harmed due to their negligence.

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