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How sleeping pills can contribute to car accidents in Illinois

Many people in Illinois understand that drunk driving, distracted driving and reckless driving are all dangerous behaviors. Almost from day one, drivers are taught not to speed, ignore traffic signals, drive while impaired or send a text while behind the wheel. All of these actions can significantly increase the likelihood that a person will cause a serious car accident.

However, many drivers may not realize that taking prescription medicine before driving can also be dangerous and can increase the odds of getting in a serious accident. Many of these medications warn on the labels not to operate a car or heavy machinery after taking them, but too often, people fail to heed this warning. In some cases, drivers may not even realize that they are driving in the first place.

Sleeping pills such as Ambien can stay in a person's system for 12 hours after they have taken the medication. This can mean that a person may still be feeling the effects of the drug long after they have woken from a full night of sleep. In some situations, people continue to experience side effects referred to as complex sleep-related behaviors, which can include sleep driving.

While somewhat rare, there have been reports of people getting into their cars, driving, but having no memory of doing so. Illinois residents may remember when Kerry Kennedy, the former wife of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was involved in an accident when she side-swiped a truck. She later reported that she had had no memory of the accident and test results indicated that she had a prescription sleep aid in her system.

After an accident, it can be important for victims to work with an attorney who can investigate the factors that may have played a role in a crash. If another driver is found to have been impaired by drugs or alcohol, it may be possible for victims to collect financial compensation to cope with the physical, emotional and financial effects of being injured in a crash.

Source: 11Alive.com, "Ambien driving?" Jan. 3, 2013

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