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AAA study highlights the dangers of drowsy driving

Government figures indicate that drowsy driving causes between 1 and 2 percent of the motor vehicle accidents in Iowa and throughout the U.S. However, a recent study from the American Automobile Association suggests that the true figure could be much higher. Researchers from the AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety used in-vehicle cameras and other equipment to monitor more than 3,500 drivers for several months. Their figures show that fatigue played a role in about 10 percent of the accidents they witnessed.

Government statistics are based on accident investigations and statements taken by police officers. However, this information vastly underestimates the scope of drowsy driving, according to AAA. Studies have found that fatigue levels can be effectively measured by calculating the percentage of the time that an individual's eyes are closed. Published on Feb. 8, the AAA research was performed using what is known as the PERCLOS measure.

Other studies have also brought attention to the issue of fatigued and drowsy driving. In 2012, the medical journal "JAMA Internal Medicine" published research suggesting that driving while fatigued was as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or taking drugs. According to the study, drivers who have not slept for 25 hours or more are as impaired as motorists with blood alcohol levels higher than the .08 percent nationwide legal driving limit.

Experienced attorneys will likely know that dangerous activities like drowsy and distracted driving are often difficult for car accident investigators to identify. In a personal injury case, legal counsel could scrutinize the data stored by the black box-type devices that are fitted to most modern cars. These systems record vehicle data and keep track of the actions taken by drivers.

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