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Study measures crash risk among sleep-deprived drivers

While experts recommend getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night, one in three adult drivers in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. sleep fewer than seven hours. The result is drowsy driving, a factor in an estimated 7 percent of all motor vehicle accidents, including 16 percent of all fatal crashes.

Earlier in 2018, a AAA Foundation report found that those who sleep five or six hours a night double their risk for a car crash compared to those who sleep the recommended amount, while those who sleep four hours quadruple their risk. A more recent study published by the SLEEP journal has come up with more exact statistics.

Those who sleep six, five or four hours raise their risk of a crash by 1.6, 1.9 and 2.9 times, respectively. With less than four hours of sleep, drivers are 15.1 times more likely to crash and will behave behind the wheel like one whose blood alcohol level is 1.5 times the legal limit. Researchers also point out that changes made to one's sleep schedule within the previous week will endanger drivers, as will traveling for three hours without a break.

Falling asleep is not the only risk that drowsy drivers face. Sleep deprivation, researchers say, can lead to mistakes like the failure to notice something important up ahead or the incorrect judgment of gaps in traffic.

Being awake is not always to be alert. When drivers become negligent and cause an auto accident, their insurance provider may find itself facing a personal injury claim. Victims of negligence may want to hire a lawyer, who may opt to hire investigators and other experts in turn. These third parties can gather proof against the defendant, including the police report and any physical evidence at the crash site. The lawyer might then negotiate for a fair settlement or prepare for litigation.

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