If drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, why doesn’t it receive nearly as much attention? You may wonder.
Statistics show that nearly 50% of American adults admit to fatigued driving. As if that isn’t scary enough, research shows that some drivers get behind the wheel while they’re so exhausted that they fall asleep at the wheel.
Drowsy driving is a silent threat
Fatigue impairs reaction time, alertness and decision-making skills, making it one of the leading causes of accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving is responsible for thousands of crashes.
Sleep deprivation is a common precursor to drowsy driving. Lack of adequate rest can lead to microsleeps—brief episodes of sleep that occur involuntarily, even with the eyes open. These microsleeps can last a few seconds but are long enough to cause a catastrophic accident.
Human bodies are naturally programmed to be more alert during certain times of the day. Disrupting these circadian rhythms, often associated with night driving or irregular sleep patterns, significantly increases the risk of drowsy driving incidents.
Drowsy driving vs. Drunk driving
Alcohol impairs cognitive functions and slows down reaction times. This combination leads to impaired judgment and coordination, significantly increasing the likelihood of accidents.
Drowsy driving and drunk driving share similarities in their impact on road safety. Both behaviors compromise a driver’s ability to react swiftly to sudden changes in traffic conditions, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
While both are dangerous, the immediacy of the danger differs. Drunk driving often results in reckless behavior, such as speeding or weaving between lanes, whereas drowsy driving is more likely to cause unintentional drifting and delayed reactions.
Both drowsy driving and drunk driving pose significant threats to road safety, albeit with some differences in their nature and legal consequences. By understanding the nuanced dynamics of these threats, drivers can strive towards safer roads for road users.