In a car accident with a drowsy driver?

Distracted driving and impaired driving are two issues that are commonly talked about, as numerous people in Illinois and elsewhere are hurt or killed by drivers who are not paying attention or are too intoxicated to be driving their vehicles safely. Drowsy driving is also a big problem, one that deserves more attention than it gets. When a drowsy driver causes a car accident, the results can be devastating.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, nearly 800 people were killed in accidents caused by drowsy drivers — many more were injured. More people can be found driving while tired simply because of how society has changed over the years. More people than ever are working night shifts or longer hours. More people have longer commutes. In general, people are trying to do more and be more, but they are sacrificing sleep to do it.

Those who are sleep deprived may not fully fall asleep when behind the wheel. They may experience something known as micro sleep. This is where a person suffers a brief loss of consciousness — typically lasting four to five seconds. That may not seem like a lot, but quite a bit can happen in that time. If a person is traveling at 55 miles per hour, he or she can go over 100 yards in four to five seconds, which is more than enough time to swerve into another lane, run a red light or fail to stop when needed — among other things.

It is unclear how many car accidents are caused by drowsy drivers every year. Sometimes it is not easy to identify if drowsiness contributed to a crash. If it is suspected, though, it is certainly something investigators can look into. If drowsy driving or any other form of negligence is thought responsible for a car accident, the victim or — in the event of fatality — his or her surviving family members may seek compensation for any resulting losses by filing any applicable legal claims in an Illinois civil court against those believed responsible.