Some New Jersey motorists are likely among the 83.6 million nationwide who get behind the wheel each day while sleep-deprived. According to a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association, about 5,000 deaths each year can be attributed to drowsy driving. The annual cost without taking property damage into account is estimated to be $109 billion.

The danger from driving while fatigued is so extreme that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration added drowsy driving to its list of impaired driving behaviors that includes distracted driving and driving under the influence. Unfortunately, the true scope of the problem is not fully known because law enforcement may not recognize the signs of drowsy driving. Furthermore, people may not admit to driving while fatigued after an accident.

The GHSA report found that people who do shift work or work night shifts and teens or young adults tend to be the most likely to drive while fatigued. Experts are urging more public education similar to the initiatives to reduce drunk driving and increase seat belt compliance. Public education was also one of the recommendations in the report along with other suggestions such as better law enforcement training and better data tracking. With fatal motor vehicle accidents up almost 8 percent in 2015, safety advocates are looking for reasons and ways to bring those figures back down.

Car accidents caused by negligent drivers may result in life-changing injuries to others who are on the road. A person who is facing months or years of rehabilitation or who may never fully recover from such an accident might then learn that the responsible driver’s insurance company is offering insufficient compensation. An attorney might be able to negotiate a higher settlement out of court, or it might be necessary to pursue a civil lawsuit against the at-fault motorist.