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Fatigue increases likelihood of motor vehicle accidents

New Yorkers should avoid driving unless they have had seven or more hours of sleep, according to research. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that it is twice as likely that drivers who sleep only five or six hours will be involved in an accident than those who have gotten the recommended amount. To reach this conclusion, the researchers examined data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. Drivers in accidents that involved a visit from emergency services or that resulted in a car being towed away were asked how much sleep they had in the previous 24 hours.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 33 percent of Americans are not getting enough sleep. However, the seven to eight hours needed for driving can be broken up across a 24-hour period. For example, a person who only sleeps five or six hours during the night can make up the sleep by napping before getting behind the wheel. For long drives, motorists can fight fatigue by taking a nap of 10 to 20 minutes every two hours.

While the dangers of drunk or distracted driving are more widely recognized, many people still think of sleep as optional. However, based on this data, the likelihood of car accidents increases with each hour of lost sleep.

The consequences of this lost sleep can be devastating when the result is a serious accident. An occupant of another vehicle might suffer catastrophic injuries, and the resulting medical expenses could be overwhelming. People who have been injured in such an accident that was caused by a sleep-deprived driver may want to consult an attorney because the insurance company may not offer enough to cover these costs.

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