As a driver, it is important to understand which driving behaviors may put you at risk. Distracted driving covers a lot of the most dangerous driving behaviors. It includes drowsy driving, which creates an increasing and prevalent risk for all drivers on the road.
What is it about drowsy driving that poses such a risk? Is there anything you can do to minimize it and ensure a safer drive?
Traits of drowsy and intoxicated driving
Sleep Foundation examines the impact of drowsy driving. Experts often compare drowsiness to driving under the influence. In fact, sleep deprivation often has a similar effect on the body as alcohol. A few shared traits between the two include:
- Shortened attention span
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Slowed reflexes
- Trouble detecting oncoming obstacles or danger
The more exhausted you are, the more prominent these issues become.
Microsleep and unconsciousness at the wheel
Of course, at the peak of exhaustion, you may not even maintain consciousness. It is common for drowsy drivers to nod off behind the wheel. Some experience microsleep, which includes bursts of unconsciousness that last for several seconds. Others fall asleep entirely. Most extreme and fatal crashes involve a driver falling asleep and crossing the meridian.
Drowsiness also impairs your judgment in a way similar to alcohol. You may make decisions that make no logical sense. You could forget about following traffic laws entirely. Drowsy drivers are more likely to accidentally run red lights, for example.
These traits create a perilous situation for all drivers. Unfortunately, the only way to ensure safety is by avoiding drowsy driving and drowsy drivers. Due to how difficult this is, drowsy driving crashes continue to rise.