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Sleepiness among leading causes of car accidents in United States


Car accidents continue to be the leading cause of personal injury claims in the United States. In Illinois, car accidents are frequent, causing catastrophic injuries and death. Motor vehicle accidents can result from a variety of conditions, including extreme weather, road conditions, mechanical malfunctions and driver error. Experts continue to work at determining general causes of accidents and finding ways to prevent them.

Drowsy driving has now been determined to be a leading cause of car accidents across the country. A person who has not had enough sleep can easily fall asleep while driving regardless of the time of day, although accidents are more common during early morning, mid-afternoon and late at night. All too often a drowsy driver's vehicle leaves the roadway. The chances of fatalities increase on high-speed thoroughfares and where a drowsy or sleeping driver is the only occupant in a vehicle. Unlike a drunken-driving crash in which a driver's alcohol level can be measured after an accident, no test is currently available to determine whether a person has been deprived of sleep.

People ages 16 to 29, especially males, are at risk of drowsy driving. Employees who work irregular hours or at night also often suffer from serious lack of sleep. People with narcolepsy or who are being treated for sleep apnea syndrome also have a higher likelihood of being involved in motor vehicle accidents.

Anyone who falls asleep while driving and is involved in a collision may be held liable, a fact that is more serious when there are injuries or fatalities. The principal solution to preventing such accidents to avoid driving when sleep deprived. Instead, ask someone who has enough sleep to drive or call a taxi cab. These may present temporary inconveniences, but they have the distinct advantage of preventing car accidents.

Source: Nhtsa.gov, "Drowsy driving and automobile crashes," Accessed on Oct. 8, 2014

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