Mark H. Pearson, Attorney at Law
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Drowsy driving poses a significant roadway threat

The hazards of drunk driving are well known to people in Connecticut. However, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous. To educate the public about the impairment caused by sleep deprivation, a safety engineer from Chevrolet is touring cities with a drowsy driving simulation. The simulation invites people to put on a 23-pound suit and goggles that make them experience the sensation of driving while on the verge of falling asleep.

The goggles force people to see how drowsiness alters their rate of eye closure. At first, the goggles shut for one second every 10 seconds, which represents moderate drowsiness. Then the simulation increases the length of eye closures to between two and four seconds to demonstrate extreme sleepiness. The suit weights the bodies of participants to teach them how exhaustion limits their reaction time behind the wheel.

Drowsy driving has emerged as a commonplace hazard on the roads. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60 percent of respondents had driven while very tired. A full 37 percent confessed to falling asleep behind the wheel. Unfortunately, federal car accident statistics might not measure the full extent of the problem. The American Automobile Association estimated that drowsy drivers are a factor in eight times the number of accidents attributed to them by federal agencies.

A sleepy driver might make errors that cause a crash. A person injured by a sleep-deprived motorist might have the ability to recover damages to pay for medical bills and lost income. Legal counsel could examine the evidence to see if negligence might have occurred. The advocacy of an attorney might convince an insurance company to offer an adequate settlement. If necessary, an attorney could represent the victim in court.

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