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Washington residents may be interested to learn that according to a recent survey done by AAA, about two out of five drivers have nodded off while driving a vehicle. On November 4, a forum on driving while fatigued, Asleep at the Wheel, was held in Washington, D.C. The director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration addressed the forum and said that roughly 5,000 to 7,000 vehicle fatalities each year are the result of driving while drowsy.

Among all major National Transportation Safety Board investigations, fatigue was a factor in one in five accidents, and from 2001 to 2012, fatigue was a factor in 39.5 percent of major investigations. In an earlier survey conducted in 2010, AAA found that 16.5 percent of fatal accidents occur due to fatigued drivers.

The NHTSA is attempting to warn drivers about the dangers of driving while fatigued and encourage them to stay home if they feel tired. According to the recent AAA study, across all age groups, almost one-third drove in the previous month while feeling tired. The age group most likely to do so are those who are between the ages of 19 and 24.

Individuals who have been seriously injured in an accident involving a drowsy driver or who have lost a loved one in such an accident may wish to consult with an attorney. It may be advisable to file a civil suit against the driver who was fatigued. Even if there are no criminal charges against the driver, driving while drowsy may be considered negligent behavior. Victims may receive compensation that will cover their medical expenses or, in the case of a wrongful death suit, such amounts as may be permitted by statute.