Driving Drowsy Is as Bad as Driving Drunk

November 20, 2023 | David Abels
Driving Drowsy Is as Bad as Driving Drunk

Drowsy Driving Accidents in Chicago

There are many reasons why tired drivers are on the road. Whether someone is on a road trip, driving long work shifts in a truck, coming off the night shift, or has a sleep disorder, drowsiness can often affect people behind the wheel. While most people do not worry about driving while tired, drowsy driving can impair a driver similarly to alcohol or drugs. When drivers are not alert, they make mistakes and cause serious accidents and injuries to others. If you suffered injuries in an accident where a driver fell asleep or lost focus due to fatigue, you need a Chicago drowsy driving lawyer to review the circumstances. It is difficult to prove someone's state of mind, including drowsiness, so these claims can be challenging. 

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What Causes Drowsy Driving?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, not getting enough sleep is the primary cause of fatigue, and drivers feel confident that they can make it home even when experiencing extreme drowsiness. While excessive sleep deprivation, like 18 to 24 hours awake, is similar to drunk driving, anything less than eight hours can cause a drowsy driving accident. Those who only get six to seven hours of sleep are twice as likely to be in a motor vehicle accident. Additionally, anyone who sleeps less than five hours is four to five times more likely to be in a collision. Most often, drivers are tired from:

  • Getting off work late, overworking, or pulling a double shift
  • Untreated sleep disorders that affect sleep quality, such as sleep apnea
  • Overexertion while on a road trip to get to a specific destination
  • Being abruptly awakened from sleep due to an emergency
  • Attending a late-night event like a concert, show, or party
  • Alcohol and drugs that cause drowsiness
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications that cause tiredness
  • Weather and car trouble delays that exhaust a person's energy
  • Truckers need to meet unrealistic deadlines to meet employer demands

Medications are hazardous, and manufacturers will place warning labels warning consumers that they cause drowsiness. Doctors and pharmacists will also warn patients that the medicine they are prescribing can cause drowsiness and that they should avoid driving. Drivers do not always listen. Some commonly known medications that cause sleepiness are:

  • Narcotic pain relievers
  • Antidepressants
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Anxiety medications
  • Allergy medications
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Prescription sleep aids

Combining alcohol and medications is also a deadly combination that can lead to drowsiness and additional impairment. Even experienced drivers are not immune from legal repercussions for taking medications that cause drowsiness. Anyone taking medication must read the warning label and take the necessary precautions to stay safe and keep others safe. They cannot plead ignorance of the side effects.

Drowsy driving also leads to other distractions because drivers are trying to stay awake, so they believe that talking on the phone, blasting loud music, and other activities will keep them awake. When you combine sleepiness and distractions, it is a recipe for disaster. Regardless of the combination of factors that led to your crash, always have our attorneys review your options. We can identify whether another driver should be responsible for your losses and seek the compensation you deserve.

Drowsy Driving and Traffic Safety

Drowsy driving is prevalent among young drivers, binge drinkers, truck drivers, and late-shift workers. Drivers between 18 and 29 are more likely to drive drowsy due to lifestyle habits. Men are twice as likely to fall asleep while driving than women. Adults with children are also at a higher risk of drowsy driving than childless individuals, especially when the child is very young. Some employers have varied shifts, and working a regular day shift lowers the chances of driving drowsy. Shift workers, especially night or graveyard shifts, have a higher risk of drowsy driving because they have irregular sleep patterns. Even having one night shift a month can be detrimental to a sleep schedule and lead to drowsy driving. 
Another risk factor is specific to truck drivers and those who spend hours on the road. Commercial drivers spend long hours driving to deliver cargo and merchandise across Illinois and the U.S. Nearly 20 percent of all large truck accidents involve drowsy drivers, as these drivers often push their limits and fail to get enough rest. 
Our bodies automatically associate nightfall with sleep, and nighttime driving becomes very dangerous. There is lower visibility at night compared to daytime driving. Nighttime driving is conducive to riskier driving habits that lead to fatal accidents. Since fewer vehicles are on the road after 9 p.m., many drivers will drive more recklessly, putting others on the road at risk. Victims of drowsy drivers have legal options, but you must speak with a Chicago drowsy driving attorney as soon as possible.

Common Types of Drowsy driving accidents

car accident lawyer
Drowsy driving can cause many types of accidents, and they are similar to the accidents drunk drivers cause because the symptoms of drowsy driving are so close to impaired driving. Here are some common accidents drowsy driving causes:
  • Rear-End Collisions: Drowsy drivers may have delayed reaction times, increasing the likelihood of rear-end collisions, especially in situations where traffic suddenly slows or stops.
  • Single-Vehicle Accidents: Drowsy drivers are at a higher risk of veering off the road or colliding with objects, leading to single-vehicle accidents. These can result in serious injuries or fatalities.
  • Head-On Collisions: A drowsy driver may inadvertently drift into oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision. These accidents often result in severe injuries due to the force of impact.
  • Intersection Accidents: Drowsy drivers may fail to notice traffic signals or stop signs, leading to accidents at intersections. These accidents can involve multiple vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Sideswipe Accidents: Drowsy driving can cause a driver to drift into adjacent lanes, resulting in sideswipe collisions with vehicles traveling alongside them.
  • Run-Off-Road Crashes: Drowsy drivers are prone to running off the road, especially on highways or roads with minimal barriers. This can lead to rollovers or collisions with obstacles on the roadside.
  • Collisions with Stationary Objects: Drowsy drivers may collide with stationary objects such as guardrails, light poles, or parked vehicles, causing extensive damage and injuries.
  • Accidents Involving Commercial Vehicles: Commercial truck drivers who experience fatigue are a significant risk on the roads. Accidents involving large trucks can result in catastrophic consequences.
  • Multiple Vehicle Pile-Ups: On highways, drowsy driving can contribute to chain-reaction accidents involving multiple vehicles, leading to extensive damage and severe injuries.
  • Pedestrian and Cyclist Accidents: Drowsy drivers may fail to notice pedestrians or cyclists, leading to accidents at crosswalks or along roadways.
There are many other accidents that drowsy drivers cause, but these are the most common. You have the right to file an insurance claim to recover payment for the damages you suffer as the victim of a fatigued driving accident.

What Are the Signs of a Sleepy Driver?

Fatigue shows signs before someone falls asleep, and here are some telltale signs that a motorist is drowsy:
  • Restlessness
  • Impatience
  • Bob their heads
  • Repeatedly yawning
  • Irritability
  • Acting distant
  • Memory lapses
  • Drifting into other lanes of traffic
If you’re in another vehicle, it can be challenging to spot these signs until it is too late. Drowsiness only worsens as time passes, and drivers will begin to exhibit other signs like blinking more rapidly, forgetting the last few miles of terrain, and not staying in their lane. When a driver fails to pull over or get off the road when they know they are overly tired, they should be liable if they cause a crash.

Injuries From Drowsy Driving Related Crashes

You can sustain any number of injuries in a drowsy driving accident, such as:

  • Whiplash and Soft Tissue Injuries:Fatigued driver accidents often result in sudden stops or changes in motion, leading to whiplash and other soft tissue injuries. These injuries can cause neck pain, headaches, and long-term discomfort.
  • Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs):Severe accidents can lead to head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries. TBIs may have long-lasting cognitive and neurological effects, impacting a person's quality of life.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries:Accidents caused by fatigued driving can result in spinal cord injuries, leading to paralysis or other forms of permanent disability.
  • Broken Bones and Fractures:The impact of a fatigued driver accident can cause fractures and broken bones. Depending on the severity, these injuries may require surgery and extended rehabilitation.
  • Internal Organ Damage:Blunt force trauma from accidents can cause internal injuries, including damage to organs such as the liver, spleen, or kidneys. Internal injuries may not be immediately apparent and can lead to complications over time.
  • Cuts, Bruises, and Lacerations:Impact with objects within the vehicle or from the accident itself can result in cuts, bruises, and lacerations. While these may seem minor, they can lead to infections and scarring.
  • Emotional and Psychological Injuries:The trauma of a fatigued driver accident can have lasting emotional and psychological effects, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Facial Injuries:Airbag deployment or impact with the steering wheel can cause facial injuries, including fractures, contusions, and dental damage.
  • Amputations:In severe accidents, the risk of limb entrapment or severe injuries may lead to amputations, significantly impacting a person's mobility and quality of life.
  • Internal Bleeding:Internal injuries can result in bleeding that may not be immediately evident. Internal bleeding can be life-threatening if not promptly diagnosed and treated.

Injuries in a car crash can be life-altering, and they might be worse in a truck accident. It can take months or years of medical treatment to reach maximum medical improvement, and even then, you might not be the same again. It's important to work with a Chicago drowsy driving attorney to review your compensation options and get assistance and advocacy throughout the process.

Seeking Compensation After a Drowsy Driver Accident

compensation for Phoenix wrongful death claimCompensation is vital after a drowsy driving accident, and you will need to take legal action to ensure you get the payment you need for the losses the drowsy driver caused. While insurance companies should make the claim process more manageable, they do not. They commonly delay and deny claims. Thankfully, there are Chicago drowsy driving lawyers who will negotiate with the insurance company to get the maximum compensation for your injuries. If an insurance claim does not settle for a fair amount, then your attorney will look into filing a personal injury lawsuit to hold liable parties responsible. 
Most clients are wary of filing a lawsuit because they feel it will be complex and hinder their recovery. The opposite is true. While there are legal complexities, you will not need to deal with them because your Chicago drowsy driving attorney will handle that for you. 
You have only two years from the accident date to file a car accident lawsuit in Illinois, so do not hesitate. If a loved one dies from a drowsy driving accident, the best option is to file a wrongful death claim within a year of their death. 
Depending on case specifics, other avenues might be available for you to recover compensation and hold sleepy drivers responsible for their negligence. When a driver falls asleep while driving, some complications arise with these accidents. Drivers do not remember the accident, blame others, or deny they fell asleep. The driver's insurance company will use their statements to deny your claim, sometimes even if an accident report says the driver was asleep at the wheel. 
Do not trust the other driver or insurance company will believe you when you tell the truth. Drowsy drivers do not want to take responsibility for their actions, so you must speak with a Chicago drowsy driving lawyer to advocate for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.

How an Attorney Can Help

Why should you contact a personal injury lawyer?

When you hire a personal injury attorney, they can assist you in many ways. You no longer have to wonder about your legal rights, as your lawyer can advise you of them. You can focus on your medical treatment and physical recovery while trusting that someone is protecting your rights. In the meantime, your lawyer can:

  • Identify liable parties, which can include the driver and employers if a driver was on the job
  • Calculate your past, future, and intangible losses, which can include medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering
  • Handle all insurance company claims, including communicating and negotiating with adjusters on your behalf
  • Advise you if a settlement offer is fair or not
  • Proceed to litigation if necessary to seek full compensation
With a personal injury lawyer on the case, you get access to considerable resources and experience at no upfront cost to you that can increase your chances of getting the best possible outcome.

Speak to an advocate from Abels & Annes, P.C.

As the victim of a drowsy driving accident, you deserve financial compensation for your losses. Getting compensation for your injuries is not always easy, so you need a legal advocate in your corner. You should focus on your medical care and allow a professional to handle your claim. The Chicago drowsy driving lawyers from Abels & Annes, P.C. are here to get you justice for another driver’s negligence. Contact us today to get started with a free case evaluation and consultation. Chicago Office 100 N LaSalle St #1710 Chicago, IL 60602 Toll Free: (855) 529-2442 Phone: (312) 924-7575
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David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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