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Drowsy driving as dangerous as drunk driving

North Carolina residents may be shocked to learn that nearly 83.6 million people drive while sleep-deprived each day, according to a report. The behavior, which is as dangerous as drunk driving, claims the lives of an estimated 5,000 people each year and costs the U.S. around $109 billion.

The report, released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, says that going 24 hours without sleep and then driving is the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol content level of .10. Going 21 hours without sleep is equal to .08, which is the legal alcohol limit in all states, and going 18 hours without sleep equals .05. The GHSA also says teens and young adults are involved in more than half of all crashes involving sleep deprivation. People who work night shifts or long shifts and those with sleep disorders are also at elevated risk of driving while drowsy.

The GHSA report made several suggestions to help states address the issue, including better data collection, employer polices, improved laws and enforcement training, teen driver education and licensing requirements and increased public awareness about the seriousness of drowsy driving. The programs of several states were highlighted as successful examples of combating the problem. For instance, Iowa partnered with a supermarket chain to launch a public outreach initiative on drowsy driving. Meanwhile, Utah uses highway signs to warn drivers about the dangers of drowsy driving and encourage them to pull over if necessary. The program has reportedly reduced car accidents by up to 63 percent.

North Carolina drivers injured in a car crash caused by a drowsy driver may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. An attorney could review an accident case and explain all legal options available.

Source: Forbes, "Around 5,000 People Were Killed Last Year Due to Drowsy Driving," Tanya Mohn, Aug. 8, 2016

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