Abels & Annes

6,000 Deaths Blamed on Drowsy Driving Annually

41816Often, when it comes to driving, motorists will express an understanding of safety-related issues and will state that certain dangerous behaviors should be avoided at all costs. Yet those same motorists will admit to engaging in the dangerous behaviors themselves, leading to a “do as I say, not as I do” situation.

This seems to be particularly true of drowsy driving, an activity described as operating a motor vehicle while being impaired by a lack of sleep. It can stem from a worker who does not get enough time to rest, a parent of a new baby, or even someone who must be on-the-go often to provide for their families. In Chicago, many incidents of drowsy driving arise from the fact that the city’s expressways and interstates are so congested that drivers face long commutes, limiting the amount of time they rest each night.

No matter why someone is tired, the fact that they have not slept enough puts themselves and others in danger of a car accident, and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that more than 6,000 deaths are caused by drowsy driving annually.

A drowsy driver makes decisions more slowly than one who is fully rested. This means that it will take someone who is tired longer to react if a car cuts them off, if traffic stops, or even if they are approaching their intended turn. Being drowsy also substantially increases the odds that a motorist will fall asleep behind the wheel and will be unable to take any appropriate action with regard to safety.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one out of every 25 adult drivers in America has reported that they have fallen asleep while driving in the last 30 days. Those who snore or who sleep less than six hours at night are among the most likely individuals to fall asleep while behind the wheel as are Americans who suffer from sleep-related medical conditions.

Early signs of drowsy driving include excessive yawning, blinking slowly and/or frequently, foggy thoughts, confusion about your location when in familiar surroundings, weaving in your lane or crossing lane markers, missing road signs, and forgetting where you drove recently. More advanced signs of drowsiness behind the wheel include bobbing your head, a strong desire to sleep, and keeping your eyes closed longer than normal when blinking.

If you exhibit any of the signs of drowsy driving while in Illinois, pull over and find someplace safe to rest until you are safe to drive again. If you can, do your best to prevent drowsiness before it arises by getting enough sleep at night, managing any medical conditions appropriately, and avoiding all alcohol before driving.

Drowsy driving and associated car accidents are becoming an unnecessary part of life in Chicago. Do not be part of the problem if you drive, and know your rights if you happen to be the victim of an incident involving a sleeping and/or tired driver.

Prior Blog Entry:

Local Roadwork Expected before Eisenhower Expressway Widening, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 13, 2016.

Resources:

How Drowsy Driving Left This Man Paralyzed, by Chantelle DMello, The Huffington Post, published April 15, 2016.

Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published November 5, 2015.