Many people in Illinois and elsewhere are aware of the dangers posed by driving while drunk or distracted. However, many overlook the potential hazards of drowsy or fatigued driving. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy driving contributes to an estimated 6,400 fatal collisions and approximately 109,000 injury accidents each year. Often it is not just the drowsy drivers themselves who are killed or injured in such crashes; the occupants of other vehicles may also be affected.
How dangerous is fatigued driving?
Sleep deprivation and drowsiness can significantly hinder the ability of motorists to safely operate motor vehicles. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation reports that being awake for a period of 18 hours may elicit a similar level of impairment as having a blood alcohol content level of .05. In Illinois, drivers with BAC levels of .08 percent are considered legally drunk.
The potential dangers of falling asleep while operating a vehicle are obvious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that drowsiness may cause motorists to be less attentive, it may slow their reaction times and it may impact their ability to make decisions. As a result of these effects, drowsy drivers may have an increased risk of being involved in motor vehicle collisions.
Who is at risk?
Generally, anyone who does not get adequate sleep could be at risk for fatigued driving. For certain groups, however, the risk may be greater. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 18-years-old and 29-years-old are more likely than those in other age groups to drive while drowsy. Furthermore, men are more likely to fall asleep while driving or to drive while fatigued than women. Those with children in their households also tend to have an increased risk of sleep deprived driving. Compared to people who work regular daytime schedules, shift workers are also more likely to drive while drowsy.
What causes drowsy driving?
There are a number of factors which may contribute to drowsy driving. Some of the most common causes include the use of sleep aids and other sedating medications along with untreated sleep disorders. Additionally, sleep loss and failing to get adequate rest may also contribute to sleep-deprived driving, and thus, auto accidents. The time of day when a motorist is traveling as well as the length of time that he or she has been on the road may also play a part in drowsy driving.
Obtaining legal representation
When people in Chicago are involved in drowsy driving collisions, they may suffer serious injuries, which require extensive medical treatment. As a result, they may require medical treatment and time off of work to recover. This could lead to medical expenses and to lost wages. Depending on the circumstances, however, the drowsy driver may be held financially responsible. Therefore, those who have experienced situations such as this may benefit from consulting with an attorney.