Drowsy driving is one of the most pervasive driving hazards, yet few drivers pay much attention to its dangers. Although it is difficult to estimate just how many traffic accidents are the result of drowsy driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving, though the number of fatal crashes caused by drowsy driving could be as much as 5,000 or 6,000 annually.
Although the dangers of drinking and driving are well known, few people consider the dangers of drowsy driving even though the effects of fatigue are similar to the effects of alcohol. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that cognitive impairment after approximately 18 hours awake is similar to that of someone with a BAC of 0.05% and that after about 24 hours awake, the impairment is equivalent to a BAC of 0.10% – higher than the legal limit in all states. Specifically, sleepiness or fatigue causes the following driving dangers:
- Impaired reaction time, judgment, and vision
- Problems with information processing and short-term memory
- Decreased performance, vigilance, and motivation
- Increased moodiness and aggressive behaviors
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following drivers are most at risk of fatigue-related auto accidents:
- Young people, especially males under age 26
- Shift workers and people with long work hours
- Commercial truck drivers (in fact, at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue)
- People with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
- Business travelers and others who spend many hours driving or may be jet lagged
The National Sleep Foundation also reports that 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy and that 37% of Americans admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. It can be difficult to know if you are at risk of drowsy driving dangers, but the National Sleep Foundation offers the following signs and signals that a driver should pull over and stop driving:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven
- Missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing eyes
- Trouble keeping head up
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless and irritable
Contact an Illinois Auto Accident Lawyer
The Chicago car accident attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are committed to promoting safe driving practices and helping the victims of auto accidents obtain full and fair financial recovery. We remind readers to avoid driving if you are fatigued or sleepy.
If you were injured or loved one died in a car accident in or around Chicago, do not hesitate to contact Ankin Law Office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our auto accident lawyers.