Drowsy driving is a common cause of car accidents

Summer is coming to a close, but it's expected that nice weather will continue in Illinois for another month or two. This means a large amount of drivers will still be on the road to enjoy the outdoors and visit friends and family. Many of these drivers will be distracted or otherwise unsafe to share the road with others. While a great deal of the focus on unsafe drivers these days is on drunk drivers and those who text and drive, many people might not realize that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.

About 60 percent of U.S. drivers admitted to having driven while sleepy during the past year, according to statistics compiled by the National Sleep Foundation. A whopping 37 percent of these tired drivers actually fell asleep at some point behind the wheel. Falling asleep while driving is a serious and dangerous matter: The Press Democrat reported on the story of a California man who fell asleep while driving, drifted into another lane and crashed into another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle was killed in the accident.

Is driving drowsy the same as driving drunk?

Driving after being awake for longer than 18 hours is equivalent to having a blood alcohol content of .08, the nation's legal limit for drinking and driving, says Teen Driver Source. When sleepy drivers drive for long distances on plain roads, drive alone or drive during normal sleeping hours, their chances of getting in an accident are increased.

How to reduce the chance of falling asleep while driving

Driving tired is dangerous, but can definitely be prevented by following some simple tips that AAA has provided:

  • Sleep well the night before starting a trip.
  • Don't drive during times you'd normally be asleep.
  • Take a break and get out for walks every 100 miles or couple of hours.
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage.
  • Drive with a fully awake passenger.

Drivers should realize that all it takes is an instant of dozing off behind the wheel for an accident to occur.

When to contact an attorney

There will always be unsafe drivers on the roads no matter what precautions you take. While you may follow advice to keep yourself and others safe while driving, you could still encounter a sleepy driver. If you or anyone in your family has been involved in a crash caused by a tired driver, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses or pain and suffering. It's important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to find out what your rights are.