Falling Asleep While Drivingby Jared Staver in Auto Accidents, Personal Injury, Truck Accidents
It only takes a few seconds to doze off behind the wheel and cause a fatal car crash. Falling asleep while driving can be extremely dangerous for you and other travelers on the road. Unfortunately, approximately 1 in 25 adult drivers surveyed in 2010 reported that they have fallen asleep at the wheel at least once within 30 days time. In addition, driving while tired or drowsy contributes to thousands of motor vehicle injuries and fatalities every year. Commercial drivers, shift workers, and individuals with untreated sleeping disorders are particularly at risk of falling asleep while driving.
What Causes Falling Asleep at the Wheel?
Sleep deprivation is often regarded as the main culprit behind falling asleep while driving accidents. However, many factors can contribute to a driver’s sleep loss or inability to stay awake.
- Sleep Disorders: Sleep disorders are often undiagnosed or mistreated, and symptoms can be worsened by repetitive tasks that require focus. For example, narcolepsy and sleep apnea are chronic conditions that disrupt your sleep schedule. You may experience nighttime wakefulness and episodes of severe daytime fatigue. Without proper treatment, sleep disorders can hinder your ability to perform regular activities like driving.
- Prescription Medication: Some prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs can cause drowsiness, and reduce your ability to drive safely. This pertains to painkillers, anti-depressants, and even cold medicine. You should be aware of possible side effects of any medication you are taking, and avoid driving after consumption.
- Alcohol: Because alcohol is a depressant, you may start to feel tired after drinking, especially late at night. Even if your BAC level is below the legal limit, driving immediately after consuming alcoholic beverages heightens your risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
- Irregular Schedules: Since the human body is regulated by the circadian cycle, our brain will receive signals to shut down as the day ends. Certain occupations may require you to work overnight or stay awake for long stretches of time, interrupting your biological clock. When you have an irregular work and sleep schedule, you become more susceptible to the dangers of falling asleep while driving.
Falling Asleep While Driving Car Accidents
To avoid getting into a serious auto accident, you need to take precautionary measures before actually falling asleep at the wheel. You should be cognizant of common signs of drowsy driving, such as incessant yawning or blinking, drifting from your lane, and difficulty keeping focus. If you catch yourself nodding off at any point, it is best to pull over and take a break instead of continuing to drive. Even a quick 20-minute nap can help you feel rejuvenated, and prevent a potential crash.
Falling asleep while driving accidents can happen unexpectedly. However, if you or someone you know recently suffered a car accident injury due to someone else’s negligence, you should not be held responsible for damages. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you prepare and file a legal claim to recover the compensation that you deserve.
If you were injured in the Chicago-area, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable car accident injury lawyers. We will happy to answer any questions you may have, and discuss your legal options.