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Crashes due to drowsy drivers can't be called accidents

The way we talk about collisions on the road is misleading. We discussed this in a post back in June. The position we offered then is that, in most cases, what we call accidents are really disasters caused by someone's negligence or reckless behavior. As such, seeking compensation for victims and holding someone accountable isn't merely justified. It's demanded.

Vehicle crashes are major causes of catastrophic injury and death in central Illinois. Contributing factors can be many. Agriculture is big business here and large machines lumbering slowly along are common. Their presence can lead drivers to get antsy at the wheel and make deadly decisions. Speeding, drunk driving, texting and other forms of distraction are problems, too.

One potential crash factor that doesn't get as much attention as it deserves would be driving drowsy. According to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, there are nearly 84 million sleep-deprived individuals behind the wheels of vehicles every day. Its estimated crashes involving these drivers resulted in about 5,000 fatalities last year. The cost to the nation comes in at more than $100 billion. That doesn't include property damage.

Concern about the prevalence of drowsy driving is so high right that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration now includes it in its definition of what constitutes impaired driving.

GHSA officials acknowledge that drowsy driving is particularly hard for law enforcement to combat. Police receive no particular training on how to identify when a driver is suffering from sleep deprivation. And officials say those who do it aren't likely to self-report in the wake of a crash.

Some might argue that driving drowsy is the epitome of recklessness because it is completely preventable. The report's author says lacking other strategies, it's going to require focusing on raising overall public awareness about the problem.

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