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Drowsy Drivers Causing Illinois Auto Accidents

April 24, 2013

Drunk driving, or DUI, is a well-known danger and everyone is aware that DUIs cause thousands of injuries and deaths every year. However, DUIs are not the only concern for Illinois drivers — DWD may be just as dangerous. DWD stands for Driving While Drowsy and, according to a recent article in the New Yorker, the Department of Transportation has identified DWD as a cause of around 40,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths every year.

Our Chicago, IL accident attorneys know that many people make the choice to drive when they are tired. In some cases, drivers will drive when they are literally unable to stay awake. While most people want to believe it is very rare for a sleepy person to be on the road, a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that the problem is far more common than most would think.

How Many People Drive While Drowsy?

The CDC recently conducted the largest ever study on drowsy driving, interviewing just over 147,000 people in Illinois, Washington, D.C., and eighteen other states in the U.S. The study revealed that:

  • A total of 4.2 percent of the 147,076 survey respondents answered in the affirmative when asked if they had fallen asleep behind the wheel in the 30 days immediately before the survey. These drivers said they had fallen asleep at least one time. 
  • Men were more likely to have fallen asleep, with 5.3 percent of men admitting they had closed their eyes as they drove compared with just 3.2 percent of women.
  • In Illinois, 5,555 people responded to the survey. A total of 129 respondents reported that they had fallen asleep when driving. The percentage of dozing drivers was thus equal to 2.9 percent.
  • Drivers ages 18-44 were more likely than older drivers to doze off, with 4.9 percent of drivers in this age group answering that they had fallen asleep in the 30 days before the survey. Only 1 percent of retired respondents, and 1.7 percent of drivers over 65, said they had fallen asleep.

This data shows that DWD is a problem among many drivers, especially younger drivers who may be more likely to struggle with work and family responsibilities that cut into their sleep time. Drivers who snored or who worked late shifts were also more likely to say they had fallen asleep when driving.

Drowsy Driving is Dangerous

The high number of DWD drivers is a major concern throughout Illinois and across the United States. Data shows that a drowsy driver can be just as impaired as a drunk driver, and that someone who has not gotten sufficient sleep can be just as bad of a driver as someone who has consumed a six pack of beer.

Unfortunately, when a driver falls asleep behind the wheel, he is also more likely to get into an accident that causes serious injury. A driver who is not awake and aware is not able to use crash avoidance, such as trying to swerve to avoid a head-on crash or trying to slam on the brakes to reduce the force of the collision.

If you need an accident attorney in the Chicago Illinois area, contact Coplan + Crane at 800-394-6002 or visit our Oak Park office.