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A drowsy driver can be as dangerous as a drunk driver

In Louisiana, the problem of drunk driving gets a lot of attention from law enforcement agencies and the news media, and rightly so. But, there are other forms of driver incapacity that can be just as dangerous. One of the most common is drowsy driving.

Drowsy drivers are involved in a significant number of accidents nationwide. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver fatigue or drowsiness is a factor in about 100,000 motor vehicle accidents annually in the United States. The NHTSA claims that these accidents result in 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths every year.

Drowsiness delays reaction times, impairs judgment and vision and slows a driver's ability to process information. Warning signs of drowsiness on the road include swerving, drifting across lanes, repeated yawning and difficulty keeping one's eyes focused and open. It is not just long-haul truckers who are at risk, night shift workers, new parents, college and high school students and inexperienced drivers are at a higher risk than other drivers as well.

Drowsiness and fatigue can cause a driver to be negligent. A driver who falls asleep at the wheel is at risk of crossing the center line and causing a head-on collision. A drowsy driver may fail to notice a red light and collide with another vehicle in an intersection.

When a negligent driver causes injury to others, the victims have legal rights under our civil justice system. Under Louisiana law, those who are injured by another person's negligence have the right to bring a personal injury suit and recover monetary damages. Understanding these rights is the first step toward recovering legal compensation for a person's injuries.

Source:, "Motorists Reminded of Dangers of Drowsy Driving as Daylight Savings Time Ends," Nov. 7, 2016

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