When drivers hit the road, they know to avoid distractions. Most people think about texting while driving, but distractions come in many more forms.
In fact, getting behind the wheel without enough sleep is one of the biggest and most dangerous distractions of all.
DUI and drowsiness effects
The CDC discusses the impact of drowsiness on how safe a driver stays on the road. Drowsiness actually has a similar impact on the mind and body that intoxication does. This can include, but is not limited to, effects such as:
- Slowed reflexes
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Diminished problem-solving skills
- Disproportionate reactions or underreactions
Together, the effects of drowsiness make it much harder to identify problems as they arise and react to them appropriately.
On top of that, drowsy drivers face an additional risk: microsleep. This is when a driver falls asleep for bursts of 1 to 3 seconds while behind the wheel due to exhaustion.
The risks of sleeping at the wheel
While this might not seem like a lot of time, a driver going at 60 miles per hour can cover the distance of a football field in just 3 seconds. This is plenty of time to end up colliding with another car, driving off the side of the road, or driving through the meridian and into oncoming traffic.
All three of these things happen with drowsy drivers, especially those who fall asleep or experience microsleep. The rate of accidents and fatalities is unfortunately quite high, making this a major problem that all drivers should treat seriously.