How Dangerous is Driving While Drowsy?

Posted by at 8 July 2020, at 11 : 52 AM

How Dangerous is Driving While Drowsy?

Many people are unaware of the dangerous behavior they engage in when choosing to operate a vehicle while drowsy. It’s an easy behavior to justify, of course – especially when it feels as though you are only “a little” sleepy. You may feel as if you’re in total control of the vehicle; however, your reaction time is significantly slowed, and you are not as alert as you would be if you were fully awake. Being drowsy behind the wheel poses several substantial risks, not only to yourself but the other drivers that are sharing the roadways with you. The next time you’re thinking of hopping in the car when you’re feeling sleepy, remember to keep in mind the risks behind drowsy driving.

Most drivers associate dangerous driving habits with being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or distractions such as cellphones and other mobile devices. Many are surprised to learn that drowsy driving can impose these same risks. Further, a whopping one out of every three American drivers engages in this behavior every day. This 30% of the population is highly sleep-deprived when considering the recommendations by health experts to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.

Those who choose to operate a vehicle when in this state are three times likelier to become either the cause or victim of an auto collision. Why? A lack of sleep can have significant impacts on your body’s physiology, namely, in the following ways:

*Reduced awareness
*Slower reaction times
*Increased difficulty with thinking

Research has shown that, because of these effects that deprivation of sleep can have on an individual, drowsy drivers have been responsible for over 20% of fatal car crashes annually. You must also realize that this is not an issue that is easily satiated by anything other than sleep. If you are feeling excessively tired, you cannot make up for this drowsiness by using caffeine and different types of stimulants. These solutions may backfire and work against the goal of improving your driving capabilities and, instead, impair you even further.

How to Know When You are Too Drowsy to Drive

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that one in every 25 adult drivers in the United States (individuals aged 18 years and older) have admitted to having fallen asleep when behind the wheel at least once in a given month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), those who are suffering from a lack of sleep, yet still choose to operate a vehicle, were responsible for 72,000 collisions, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013 alone. This driving habit is not one to take lightly, and you must do all you can to ensure you are not guilty of it.

Here’s how to know you’re too tired to drive:

*You are continuously yawning and are struggling to keep your eyes open.
*You can’t remember the last few exits.
*You are drifting in and out of your lane.
*You are engaging in unusually dangerous driving behaviors such as tailgating and excessive braking.

Review your behavior and mental state before getting behind the wheel to ensure that you are not endangering your own life or those who are sharing the road with you.

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