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More people drive drowsy than you may realize

How many times have you woken up feeling more tired than you were when you went to bed? Maybe you just needed more sleep, but your alarm went off and you had to get up. Perhaps you didn't get any sleep at all for one reason or another.

If you identify with any of these scenarios, know you are not alone. Nearly everyone here in Chicago and elsewhere across the country has had at least one of these mornings, some more than others. In any case, you would also be among the vast majority of Americans who have driven when they were really too sleepy and fatigued to do so safely.

Information from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine conducted a survey in Sept. 2019. Of the 2,003 adult participants, an alarming 45% admitted to having difficulty remaining awake while driving. Drowsy driving can cause you to experience impaired decision-making and diminished reaction times much like drunk drivers. In fact, many people compare drowsy driving to drunk driving because the individuals involved tend to act the same way behind the wheel.

In addition, just like drunk driving, drowsy driving is preventable 100% of the time. The AASM calls drowsy driving a serious public health concern. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's data, indicating that driving drowsy results in approximately 328,000 accidents each year and that around 6,400 of them end in fatalities, may back up that contention.

The fix is a simple but complex one

The simplest way to fix drowsy driving is to either get enough sleep or don't drive. The problem is that life often gets in the way of doing either, so you end up driving when maybe you shouldn't. Caffeine may get you a short distance, but it doesn't fix the problem. Other supposed "fixes," such as rolling down the window, turning up the radio or turning on the air conditioner, do not increase your alertness. They just make you windblown, unable to hear and cold.

You may now realize that getting some sleep is really the only way to fix the problem, but knowing that isn't enough since other drivers may not do their homework as you do. They drive drowsy and may even fall asleep at the wheel. If you end up the victim of another person's sleep deprivation, you could suffer serious injuries and incur significant monetary damages. Fortunately, Illinois law allows you to seek compensation for those losses.

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