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Dealing with Drowsy Driving Accidents: Here is what you should Know

As per Fatal Crash Data of 2023 for Illinois, more than 900 fatal crashes were reported. the total number of fatalities as mentioned by the data was 1021 with 222 cases of improper or no use of Restraint.
In a single year(2021), drowsy driving resulted in the tragic loss of 684 American lives, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
no such law has been constructed to reduce drowsy driving. however, the person accused may be held responsible for any damages and losses incurred.

Fatigue and sleep deprivation are the two major factors resulting in Drowsy Driving. Fatigue, whether brought on by sleep deprivation from caring for a newborn who wakes frequently, extended or late shifts at work, late-night socializing, or a lengthy and uneventful road trip during the holidays, can yield similar adverse consequences.

These encompass diminished cognitive abilities, reduced performance, car accidents, workplace incidents, and health-related repercussions. the person dosing off to sleep while behind the wheel not only puts his life at risk but also others on the road. there are  other factors as well that contribute to drowsy driving. with sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea often going undiagnosed, leading to disrupted and less restorative sleep, which in turn causes daytime drowsiness when left untreated.

Additionally, alcohol consumption can induce sleepiness while impairing reaction time and decision-making, thereby elevating the risk of auto accidents.

Medications, including sleep aids, prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies, and dietary supplements taken at night, can result in lingering grogginess the next morning, and drowsiness is a common side effect of medications used to treat various medical conditions.

Furthermore, drowsy driving accidents are most likely to occur between midnight and 6 a.m. or during the mid-afternoon, corresponding to peak periods of sleepiness.

Consequences of Drowsy Driving

  • Drowsy Driving Risk Parallels Drunk Driving: Drowsy driving is shown to be equally hazardous as driving under the influence of alcohol, highlighting the seriousness of this issue. This means that the impaired decision-making, slow reaction times, and reduced cognitive abilities associated with drowsy driving are comparable to the dangers posed by alcohol-impaired driving.
  • CDC Comparison: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) draws a stark comparison by suggesting that being awake for a continuous 24-hour period is as impairing as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10%. This comparison underscores the cognitive and physical impairments that come with sleep deprivation, making it a clear danger on the road.
  • High Risk of Car Crashes: The most significant risk that drowsy drivers face is the occurrence of car accidents. Fatigue significantly impairs a driver’s ability to stay alert and make quick, safe decisions. As a result, drowsy drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents, putting themselves, their passengers, and other road users at risk.
  • Severity of Fatigue-Related Crashes: Fatigue-related crashes often result in high injury levels. These accidents are not limited to minor fender benders; they frequently lead to severe injuries or fatalities. This means that drowsy driving incidents have the potential to cause significant harm, making it crucial to address and prevent this issue to protect the safety of all individuals on the road.

Drowsy Driving can result the driver in:

  • Failing to maintain lane discipline
  • Driving at excessive speeds or overly cautiously
  • Veering across the center line and into the path of oncoming vehicles
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Ignoring red lights or stop signs, potentially leading to collisions

Ways to Avoid Drowsy Driving

Teen Sleep Needs: Many adolescents do not receive the required amount of sleep, which is particularly concerning as their biological need for sleep increases. This makes them vulnerable to drowsy-driving risks, especially during extended journeys. Encourage teenagers to delay driving until they are well-rested to mitigate these dangers.

Public Transportation for Medication-Induced Drowsiness: If you are taking medications with potential drowsiness as a side effect, consider using public transportation when possible to reduce the associated driving risks.

Preparation for Long Car Trips: Prior to embarking on extended family car trips, prioritize getting a good night’s sleep. Failure to do so not only endangers your family’s safety but also poses risks to other road users.

Short-Term Solutions: While caffeine or energy drinks may offer a brief boost in alertness, their effects are short-lived and may not completely counteract drowsiness. In cases of severe sleep deprivation, “micro sleeps” can still occur, lasting a few seconds and posing a significant risk. To quickly increase your alertness, consume one to two cups of coffee and then pull over to a designated, well-lit rest stop for a brief 20-minute nap. Scientific studies have demonstrated that this can temporarily enhance alertness and improve road safety.

Alcohol and Drowsiness: Refrain from consuming alcohol before driving, as it interacts with sleepiness, exacerbating drowsiness and impairment.

Prioritize Sufficient Sleep: The most effective defense against drowsy driving risks is to consistently ensure you get adequate sleep. Experts recommend aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep per night to enhance alertness and reduce the danger of drowsy driving incidents.

Medication Caution: Always scrutinize the labels of both prescription and over-the-counter medications to check for potential drowsiness as a side effect.

Avoid Peak Sleepiness Periods: When possible, steer clear of driving during peak sleepiness periods, typically between midnight and 6 a.m. and late afternoon. If driving during these times is unavoidable, remain vigilant for signs of drowsiness, such as veering over roadway lines or hitting rumble strips, especially if you are driving alone.

Seeking Compensation for Accidents

Unlike drunk driving, determining whether a driver was fatigued at the time of a crash lacks a straightforward and definitive test. Furthermore, there are no explicit laws specifically prohibiting drowsy driving, making drowsy driving accidents legally intricate.

In the event that you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a drowsy driving accident, you have the potential to seek compensation from the driver responsible if their negligence caused your harm. Driving while fatigued can be considered a form of negligence or recklessness, especially if the decision to drive under such circumstances is deemed unreasonable for an average driver.

Nonetheless, the onus falls on the injured party to demonstrate that the other driver acted negligently by driving while drowsy. Consequently, drowsy driving cases necessitate thorough investigation.

Investigation into drowsy driving accidents can be conducted by law enforcement and car accident attorneys. Individuals looking to pursue legal action against the fatigued driver can also engage accident reconstruction experts and gather evidence, including:

  • Documentation of insufficient sleep
  • Eyewitness accounts of erratic behavior, such as swerving between lanes or leaving the road
  • Statements from the drowsy driver acknowledging their fatigue or tendency to fall asleep
  • Absence of tire skid marks or other signs at the accident site suggesting a lack of effort to swerve or stop
  • Constructing a drowsy driving case and collecting the necessary evidence can be a complex process, underscoring the importance of seeking legal assistance.

For Legal Assistance, Contact Phillips Law Offices

Are you or a loved one a victim of a drowsy driving accident? At Phillips Law Offices, our law firm is here to help. With a top-rated track record in handling car accident cases, we understand the complexities of drowsy driving incidents. Your safety and well-being are our priority.

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, don’t wait. Contact us today for expert legal assistance and the support you need to pursue the compensation you deserve. Let us fight for your rights and justice. Together, we can make our roads safer and hold drowsy drivers accountable. Reach out now and take the first step towards a brighter, safer future


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