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Study Exposes Car Accident Risks Among Fatigued Young Drivers

A wide variety of factors contribute to a driver's ability to drive with caution and care. Readers in Phoenix are probably well-aware of the dangers of distracted driving, commonly caused by cell-phone use, but many may not be aware how pervasive driver fatigue is.

This year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study that revealed just how many young drivers say they've fallen asleep behind the wheel. Of the drivers aged 16 to 24, one in seven admitted they've nodded off while driving.

This study corroborates data from the National Highway Traffic Safety administration that says this age group is the most likely to be tired while driving. Furthermore, nearly 17 percent of fatal car accidents on U.S. roads are caused by fatigued drivers.

When drivers are tired, they not only pose a safety risk to themselves, but they also risk harming passengers and other people on the road. Officials from AAA also say that between being the most likely age group of drivers to be tired and being the most likely to overestimate their ability to drive safely is a "dangerous combination."

Making the decision to drive when overly tired may be a demonstration of negligence, since drivers have a duty to use care every time they decide to get behind the wheel. Much like drunk driving, being fatigued causes "reaction time, vision impairment and lapses in judgment." For this reason, drivers owe it to others on the road to make the decision to refrain from driving when they are too tired, no matter how short their trip is.

Source: AAA Newsroom, " Young Drivers Admit to Nodding Off Behind the Wheel," Nancy White, Nov. 8, 2012

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