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Is drowsy driving as dangerous as it seems?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2021 | car accidents

In recent years, more attention has come to the potential hazards related to drowsy driving. Experts across the board paint it as one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving, which says a lot, given this category also includes the highly fatal act of operating mobile devices while driving.

But is drowsy driving actually that dangerous? What about it makes it such a risk to drivers in the first place?

Drowsiness vs. intoxication

Sleep Foundation takes a look at the impact of drowsiness on overall driver safety, revealing important facts about this form of distracted driving. First, drowsiness actually has a similar impact on the mind and body as intoxication, making drowsy driving comparable to DUI-related crimes. For example, drowsiness and intoxication both share several effects, like:

  • Delayed reaction times and slowed physical responses
  • Trouble concentrating and paying attention to one’s surroundings
  • The inability to focus on potential dangers up ahead
  • Emotional instability can lead to rash decision-making

Lack of tests for drowsiness

What makes drowsy driving even riskier is the fact that, unlike intoxicated driving, there is no way for an officer to test for a driver’s alertness levels. Currently, no laws really address or penalize drivers for hitting the road when sleep-deprived, either.

This makes drowsy drivers feel secure in their actions, as they cannot face punishment for it. On top of that, many people will admit to driving drowsy or even falling asleep at the wheel. The high rate of drowsy drivers makes other drivers feel like this is an okay thing to do, increasing the number of exhausted drivers who hit the road. In turn, this easily creates an uptick in crash rates overall, endangering everyone.