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Sleeping through a car accident

The dangers of drunk driving have been well understood for a long time. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have worked for decades to raise awareness to the problem and state laws punishing use of alcohol by drivers have been considerably strengthened during that time.

However, drunk driving is not the only danger faced by motorists. Sleep deprivation is fairly pervasive in the U.S., with people often getting less sleep than they need to feel rested and alert. Combine this with the need to drive for virtually every activity leads to a great deal of drowsy driving.

But few people recognize drowsy driving is even a problem. According to some research, 20 percent of car accidents involve some degree of driver sleepiness. Thirty percent of drivers also admit that they drive drowsy from time to time.

This has led to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) to draft model legislation for the states to enact that would prompt a study the problem, a look at existing laws and regulations and recommend changes that could improve motorist safety.

The CEO of the NSF believes education is important, as few drivers recognize just how dangerous drowsy driving is and the general public tends to underestimate the true risk they face.

Better data could help, as it is likely that there are drowsy driving accidents in Pennsylvania and across the country that are misreported, because either the driver does not remember what happened immediately before the accident, or with fatal accidents, it may not be obvious why the driver lost control and crashed.

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