Driving drowsy is always dangerous, because being awake and being alert are not the same thing. In my last blog, I explored the dangers of drowsy driving and falling asleep at the wheel. But just staying awake isn’t enough. If you’re driving drowsy you:
- are less attentive
- have slower reaction times
- are potentially less able to make sound decisions
- are less alert
All of these factors make it more likely that you’ll cause an accident or be involved in an accident, even if you’re able to stay awake. That means just cranking the radio or opening a window aren’t enough. It may keep you awake, but it won’t necessarily make you alert enough to drive safely.
How Dangerous Is Drowsy Driving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 2.5 percent of fatal crashes involve drowsy driving, though these estimates are probably low due to the difficulties with identifying sleepy driving as a cause of accidents. 5,000 or 6,000 fatal crashes a year – or more – may be caused by drowsy drivers. Those odds are too high… don’t risk it.
Are You at Risk?
- are a commercial driver
- suffer poorly treated or untreated sleep disorder(s)
- use sleeping pills or sedating medications
- work the night shift or extra-long day shifts
- don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis
You are likely to suffer the consequences of sleep deprivation, including drowsiness on the road. Pull over somewhere safe. Change drivers or take a short nap. Call a friend. Treat drowsiness like the dangerous condition it is.