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Drowsy drivers are a safety hazard on highways

Mississippi drivers who text and drive aren't the only ones who cause accidents. Motorists who drive while they're sleepy cause accidents, too. The problem of drowsy drivers apparently is worse than people think.

Federal statistics indicate that only 1 percent to 2 percent of vehicle accidents are caused by drowsy drivers. A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, however, says accident rate caused by sleepy drivers may be as high as 9.5 percent. Researchers monitored 3,500 drivers at six locations around the United States between 2010 and 2013. Drowsy drivers are three times as likely to be involved in car accidents at night, the study said. The study used in-vehicle cameras to count how many times a person's eyes closed while they were driving.

While drowsy drivers are a serious problem, drunk and distracted drivers are bigger problems. The National Safety Council says more than 20 percent of car accidents in 2013 involved drivers using their cell phones. In 2013, a third of all car accident fatalities were the result of drunk driving; 10,265 people died in alcohol-related auto accidents. Drivers who go without sleep for long periods will experience the same effects as if they've been drinking, AAA researchers found.

Accidents caused by drowsy, distracted or drunk drivers can be prevented if these drivers let someone else take the wheel. People who have been injured in car accidents caused by negligent drivers may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. Such compensation can include present and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages if the victim is unable to work during the recuperation period.

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