A 41-year-old truck driver was recently charged with felonies in conjunction with a motor vehicle collision that killed four people, including an 11-year-old girl. According to My Fox Chicago, the truck driver was on the road for more than 12 hours when the collision occurred. This is over the legal limit of 11 hours per day set by Illinois law. The tragic accident is one more example of a situation where a driver allegedly made a bad choice and drove while fatigued.
Drivers generally know when they should not get behind the wheel, but unfortunately some motorists drive even if they don't think they it is safe to do so. CarInsurance.com recently conducted a survey of 2,000 drivers and asked them about times when they drove when they felt it was unsafe. Drivers were asked why they felt it would be unsafe to get behind the wheel of a car or truck.
In response to the survey, 68 percent of motorists said they drove when they were fatigued. As the recent Illinois collision shows, drowsy driving is a high-risk behavior. A person who is too tired to drive safely may be just as dangerous on the roads as someone who is intoxicated. Victims of collisions caused by drowsy drivers need to understand their legal rights and pursue a claim for monetary compensation with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
Drowsy Driving a Top Cause of Unsafe Driving
Cheat Sheet reports that 60 percent of drivers responding to the survey believed drowsy driving should be illegal. However, an even greater percentage choose to drive while fatigued. Drowsy driving is not actually illegal in the majority of U.S. states. Only two states have laws related to fatigued driving for motorists in passenger cars. In New Jersey, drowsy driving is considered to be a type of reckless driving and in Arkansas a drowsy driver can be charged with negligent homicide if he or she causes a collision. In Illinois, and nationwide, there are restrictions on the number of hours truckers can drive, which were allegedly broken by the trucker who caused the recent crash.
Preventing drowsy driving should be a top priority. The National Sleep Foundation data shows that there are 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries every year because of drowsy drivers. Drowsy driving accidents also result in annual monetary losses totaling $12.5 billion. Even with the tremendous risk of loss involved, the National Sleep Foundation reports that 1/3 of people fall asleep behind the wheel and 60 percent of adult drivers admitted to driving drowsy in the prior year.
Too many people are getting insufficient sleep, which is prompting the accidents. Psych Central reports that adults generally require between seven and eight hours of sleep per night. Yet, the National Sleep Foundation found that among adults responding to a survey:
- 29 percent got six hours of sleep or less per night.
- 41.31 percent got between six and seven hours of sleep per night.
- 21.48 percent got between seven and eight hours or sleep per night.
- 8.21 percent got more than eight hours of sleep nightly.
Drivers know the dangers, but they are simply getting too little sleep to drive safely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warns that fatigued motorists are especially likely to become involved in head-on collisions as well as road-departure crashes and rear-end accidents. Psych Central also cautions that a failure to get enough sleep can result in a sleep debt that has an impact on health and that eventually must be "paid" when a person crashes. This could happen to driver behind the wheel who finds himself unable to stay awake.
A Chicago accident attorney can help after an injury. Call Coplan & Crane at 800-394-6002 to schedule your free consultation.