There are many risky behaviors associated with higher incidents of traffic collisions. Drinking and drugged driving clearly create dangers on New York highways. Also problematic are driving at excessive speeds and what has been identified as distracted driving, primarily from cell phone use and texting. However, there is another “silent killer” that many motorists don’t think twice about.

A Department of Transportation study looked closely incidents of vehicle crashes, which included interviews with the drivers. The DOT report verified what had long been suspected — driving with insufficient sleep carries risks similar to drinking and driving. The scope of the problem is underlined by the numbers, which show 7 percent of all vehicle crashes and 16 percent of all fatal crashes are related to driver drowsiness.

Although falling asleep behind the wheel poses the greatest danger, the fatigue issue is broader. Driving while fatigued can cause a measurable decrease in the ability to concentrate, analyze distances and react normally to a changing situation. Furthermore, the cause is not only total sleep deprivation, but higher risk potential has been noted for drivers who are behind the wheel for periods longer than three hours, those whose sleep pattern has been disrupted in the past three weeks and those who suffer from sleep apnea.

People are busier than ever and driving is an integral part of the day’s activities. However, every time a driver gets on the road, there is a duty to drive in a safe and reasonable manner so as not to cause harm to others. A personal injury lawyer can explain the issues of vehicle crashes and liability.