Deadly While Drowsy

Legal Articles | November 10, 2010

In September, a Lake County man died after falling asleep and crashing his vehicle into a dump truck, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The violent, fatal crash was preventable, as were the estimated 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries nationwide caused by drowsy, fatigued, or sleeping drivers.

The National Sleep Foundation says the estimates of deaths and injuries due to fatigue are low and underestimate the impact of the problem. The group cites its “Sleep In America” poll showing that 60 percent of adult drivers admit to driving drowsy in the past year; 37 percent acknowledging having fallen asleep while behind the wheel.

At Risk

Research shows that drowsiness is a factor in more traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities than government statistics indicate. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that people who sleep six to seven hours per night are twice as likely to be in an auto accident as those who sleep eight hours or more. People driving with less than five hours of sleep increase their risk of causing a collision by four to five times.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says four main factors are involved in drowsy driving crashes:

  • Sleep loss
  • Use of sedating or sleep medications
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Untreated sleep disorders such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea

The NHTSA says because the reaction times of drivers are markedly diminished by sleepiness, car accidents involving sleeping or drowsy drivers are disproportionately among the most serious, too often involving injuries or fatalities.

The NHTSA states that sleepy or sleeping drivers often don’t even attempt to evade crashes; accidents involving them often lack evidence of corrective measures such as skid marks or activated brake lights.

Dozing Off at High Speeds

These collisions often occur at high speeds on long stretches of highway where fatigued drivers doze off; the results of the crashes are without question devastating for innocent victims involved.

If you have been hurt in a crash caused by a drowsy or sleeping driver, contact a Chicago car accident lawyer experienced in cases involving driver fatigue and negligence. A personal injury attorney helps hold drowsy drivers responsible for the damages they inflict.

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