Drowsy drivers pose serious risk on Illinois roads, study says

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that drowsy driving accidents occur more often than federal reports suggest.

While they are aware of the risks of speeding or drinking and driving, people often overlook the dangers of drowsy driving. However, collisions involving drowsiness commonly occur in Illinois and elsewhere. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were 846 traffic-related deaths involving drowsy drivers in 2014. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy driving accidents may be more prevalent than reported.

Why is drowsy driving hazardous?

Like alcohol consumption, drowsiness is an impairment for drivers. Being sleepy or fatigued may affect a person's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that drowsiness may slow motorists' reaction times, impact their judgment and make them less attentive.

Studying drowsy driving collisions

With the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, researchers conducted a study to estimate the prevalence of motor vehicle accidents involving drowsy drivers. To accomplish this, they analyzed the data for over 14,000 qualifying collisions occurring between 2009 and 2013. The wrecks used for the study included only those that were assessed by trained crash investigators and those in which at least one vehicle had to be towed away. The investigators coded the drivers' attention levels before the accidents as distracted, drowsy, looked but did not see or unknown.

The researchers applied multiple imputation models to the data. They then used the data from those models to create estimates that could be generalized and applied to all reported collisions.

Drowsy driving wrecks more prevalent than reported

Overall, the study suggests that accidents involving drowsy drivers may occur more often than is reported. Based on the study's estimates, drowsiness contributes to 21 percent of motor vehicle collisions resulting in death and 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization. This stands in contrast to federal reports, which suggest that drowsy drivers are involved in between one and three percent of all car wrecks annually. When applied to all collisions, the study's proportions estimate that drowsy driving plays a part in an average of 328,000 auto accidents each year.

Seeking legal guidance

The injuries people in Illinois suffer as a result of drowsy driving accidents may have devastating effects for them and their families. They may require medical care, which may lead to unexpected expenses. Additionally, they may lose income while they are off of work recovering, which may affect their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Thus, those who have been involved in such collisions may benefit from working with an attorney. A lawyer may help ensure their rights are upheld, and advise them of their options for pursuing compensation.