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March 23, 2015

Many drivers won’t dare get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Many of them understand that texting and driving or simply being distracted behind the wheel is a behavior that could have grave consequences. But how many think nothing of driving after having a bad night of sleep?

While it might not get the same level of public scorn as drunk driving and texting while driving, fatigued driver nonetheless poses a threat to public safety. Chicago personal injury attorneys at Deratany & Kosner call drowsy driving the third “D” of preventable accidents. The other two are drunk driving and drowsy driving.

While there is limited research and a lot of out-of-date data on drowsy driving accidents, a top official from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spoke about the real problem of tired drivers during a safety conference held in Chicago.

Mark Rosekind, NHTSA administrator, said it’s estimated that 2 to 20 percent of fatal car accidents are caused by driver drowsiness or fatigue, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.  According to old data from the NHTSA, fatigued driving each year plays a role in about 100,000 traffic accidents, including trucking accidents. About 1,500 people are killed and 71,000 are injured.

Rosekind told the Tribune the problem may be much worse than the old data suggests. Recent research indicates drowsy driving may be a factor in 1.2 million accidents and may result in the deaths of 4,000 to 7,000 people each year. In 2013, there were 32,719 traffic accident deaths nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Illinois Department of Transportation reports there were 927 deaths on the roads and highways in the state in 2014.

Attempting to Gauge the Impact of Fatigued Driving

In a newly announced safety campaign, the NHTSA will attempt to measure the impact of fatigued driving. It’s a difficult challenge. There are no breathalyzers to check if someone is too tired. But in a fatal crash investigation, police can look for tell-tale signs that a driver was fatigued.  Evidence includes a lack of skid marks, a crash involving one vehicle and no passengers with the driver.

Our Chicago attorneys represent victims of all types of accidents, including crashes caused by sleep-deprived drivers or drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. While police typically investigate such accidents, victims should consult with a lawyer who can protect their interests. At Deratany & Kosner, we work with accident reconstruction experts who can help determine liability in the crash. In addition to poring over the police reports and records of the crash, we typically conduct an independent investigation.  We interview witnesses and collect evidence.

Studies have found that someone who is has been awake for 18 hours has an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05. After being awake for 24 hours, an individual’s impairment is equal to 0.10 BAC, which is above the threshold for being legally drunk in Illinois and other states (0.08 BAC).

We strongly recommend avoiding driving if you are fatigued. Don’t take chance with your life or the lives of innocent people sharing the road.

If you were injured or a loved one was injured or died in an accident, call the Chicago car accident lawyers at Deratany & Kosner today at 800-529-7285 or visit lawinjury.com. Serving communities throughout Cook County and all of Illinois.

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