A new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates on the prevalence and impact of drowsy driving in car accidents in New Jersey and elsewhere may be understated. While the 2011 NHTSA report covering a period between 2005 and 2009 said that drowsy driving accounted for 1.4 and 2.5 percent of all towed-car accidents and fatality crashes respectively, the AAA studyclaims the actual respective percentages are closer to 6 and 21 percent.
Using a sample of over 21,000 police-reported accidents from 2009 to 2013 nationwide, AAA analyzed the severity and type of car accident injuries as well as those where no injury was reported. The report says major factors in underreporting of driver drowsiness include an unwillingness on the part of drivers to admit to drowsy driving after an accident or alternately blaming drowsiness when voluntary distraction such as texting may have been the actual cause.
Additionally, because there is no reliable way to screen for drowsiness in the aftermath of a wreck, police may not be able to pinpoint it as a contributing or primary factor. The AAA report suggests drowsy driving accounts annually for about 328,000 accidents, including 109,000 injuries and 6,400 fatalities.
Injured victims of car accidents caused by sleep-deprived or otherwise negligent motorists often are adversely impacted not only physically but financially, due to both the high cost of medical care and treatment as well as the loss of wages while unable to work. An attorney who has experience in personal injury litigation might examine police reports as well as other evidence to support the claim that the driver who was responsible for the accident failed to exercise the appropriate standard of care.