Getting a good night’s sleep is necessary but can sometimes be elusive. And whether or not you are fully rested, you still have errands to run or must commute to work or school.
But getting behind the wheel when you’re fatigued is a hazard to you and other motorists. Here is what you need to know about drowsy driving.
Alcohol versus fatigue
Driving requires full attention and alertness. You are likely well aware of the dangers associated with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. 13,284 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2021.
Drowsy driving refers to operating a vehicle while fatigued or sleepy. It’s estimated that drowsy driving accounts for over 328,000 accidents and 6,400 fatalities each year.
There are several reasons why someone is operating a vehicle while cognitively impaired by lack of sleep, including:
- Untreated sleep disorders
- Shift work
- Long work hours
- Driving long hours without breaks
Sleepiness significantly impacts your ability to drive, such as:
- Slowed reaction time, making it hard to steer or brake suddenly
- Impaired judgment and decision-making skills
- Possibility of microsleeps, which can last a fraction of a second up to 30 seconds, during which time the driver is essentially unconscious
In fact, driving after going without sleep for 20 hours is equal to driving with a blood alcohol content of.08%, the legal limit.
If you are driving, there are some signs that you are starting to become fatigued:
- Frequent yawning
- Heavy eyelids
- Missing turns or traffic signs
When you notice these symptoms, pull over to a safe spot for a break or nap.
It’s clear that both drowsy driving and drunk driving are serious issues. If you are injured in a car accident due to someone else’s impairment, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries.