How does drowsy driving factor into crashes?

When you hit the road, any decision you make has the potential to affect drivers around you. Unfortunately, some people do not take this risk seriously and take their lives and the lives of others into their own hands.

This is what happens when a driver hits the road without getting enough sleep. But how does drowsy driving factor into crashes, exactly?

Impacts of drowsiness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examine the impact drowsiness has on overall driver safety. Drowsiness actually affects the body in a way similar to intoxication. Some of the effects a driver may experience include:

  • Slowed or delayed reflexes
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing
  • “Brain fog” or mental confusion
  • Difficulty spotting danger

But of course, there are dangers unique to drowsy driving, too. The biggest one is the possibility for a driver to fall asleep behind the wheel. A driver can fall asleep entirely, or they can experience “micro sleep”. These periods of unconsciousness happen in bursts of seconds, which may not seem like a big deal. However, on the freeway, you can travel the distance of a football field in 3 seconds or less. Needless to say, this creates plenty of opportunity for crashes.

“Socially acceptable” risks

Drowsy driving also tends to hold a higher prevalence among drivers than intoxicated driving. Unfortunately, it is still a socially acceptable driving behavior. In fact, many people accept it as an unavoidable part of daily life. This makes it hard to campaign against. The more people who make it through a drowsy drive unscathed, the more people will feel comfortable trying it. This leads to a vicious cycle of repeat incidents and accidents over time.

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