The Dangers of Driving While Fatigued

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Dangers of Driving While Fatigued

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 100,000 vehicle accidents every year are caused by drivers who are fatigued or fall asleep behind the wheel. Driving while drowsy can be extremely dangerous for you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road.

Factors that Lead to Drowsy Driving

The first step toward avoiding drowsy driving is understanding what can lead your mind and body to feel fatigued. Fatigue is about more than just “feeling sleepy”—it is an actual reaction in your body that affects your overall ability to function normally. As a result, it is extremely important to recognize when you are feeling fatigued and get the rest you need before undertaking a dangerous activity, such as driving.

Common causes of fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep (either short-term or chronic)
  • Interrupted or fragmented sleep
  • Sleep disorders (insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy)
  • Being overworked or exhausted
  • Medications and alcohol consumption

Different people need different amounts of sleep. Different people also need to sleep at different times. Some people can handle driving through the night or starting work before the sun comes up; others simply cannot. When, where, how much, and how well you sleep will all affect your overall level of fatigue.

The Risks of Drowsy Driving

A study published by CNN found that driving while fatigued was just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The researchers found that:

“[B]eing awake for 20 hours straight makes the average driver perform as poorly as someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%.”

A blood alcohol level of 0.08% is the legal limit nationwide (including in Illinois) for driving under the influence. Many of the symptoms of extremely fatigued are the same as being drunk:

  • Impaired vision
  • Impaired reaction time and judgment
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Decreased attentiveness and vigilance
  • Increased risk-taking and aggressive behavior

Of course, each one of these alone makes a drowsy driver more like to cause a collision. When you combine them all together, it is easy to see why there are so many fatigue-related truck and car accidents every year.

What You Can Do to Avoid Driving While Fatigued

  • Always read over-the-counter and prescription drug labels. Never drive while under the influence of drugs that can make you drowsy.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Try to recognize when you are outside of your normal sleeping pattern, and avoid driving if you think you might get drowsy.
  • If you start to get drowsy in the car, find a safe place to pull over and take a nap.

Experienced Auto Accident Attorneys in Chicago, IL

The attorneys at Malman Law have decades of experience representing victims of auto accidents in Illinois. If you have been injured, call us at (888) 625-6265 today or fill out our online FREE case evaluation.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023

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