Americans are busy than ever, which means that we are also more tired than ever. Unfortunately, many drivers get behind the wheel of a car even though they are sleep deprived, drowsy, or fatigued – which can lead to disastrous consequences. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that each year 100,000 car crashes are the caused by driver fatigue, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
The dangers of driving while drowsy cannot be understated. In fact, research shows that driving while fatigued is as dangerous as driving while drunk. For instance, a study conducted by researchers in Australia found that being awake for 18 hours causes driving impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration of .05; after 24 hours awake, the impairment is the same as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10, which is considered to be legally drunk in all states.
Of course, falling asleep at the wheel is incredibly dangerous, but even if a driver doesn’t fall asleep while driving, fatigue alone is incredibly dangerous as it can make a driver less attentive, can slow reaction time, and can negatively impacts a driver’s ability to make decisions.
Who is most at risk for drowsy driving?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, certain drivers are more susceptible to drowsy driving risks. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that people who sleep 6-7 hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a car accident as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increase their risk of a car crash four to five times.
A 2002 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation made the following findings:
- Adults between the ages of 18-29 are much more likely to drive while drowsy compared to other age groups (71% of adults age 18-29 vs. 52% of adults age 30-64 and 19% of adults over the age of 65).
- Men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy (56% vs. 45%) and are almost twice as likely as women to fall asleep while driving (22% vs. 12%).
- Adults with children in the household are more likely to drive drowsy than those without children (59% vs. 45%).
- Shift workers are more likely than those who work a regular daytime schedule to drive to or from work drowsy at least a few days a month (36% vs. 25%).
Other research indicates commercial drivers and people with undiagnosed sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and acute insomnia are also at greater risk for sleep-related accidents.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
The Chicago car accident lawyers at Cogan & Power, P.C. are dedicated to promoting traffic safety and to helping accident and injury victims obtain maximum financial recovery. If you feel drowsy or fatigued, you should pull over immediately and rest.
If you were injured or a loved one was killed as a result of a fatigued motorist, we can help you obtain full and fair financial recovery. Contact our office today at (312) 477-2500 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago auto accident attorneys.