You probably know all about the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving, but do you even think of drowsy driving as a noteworthy concern? Many people don’t realize that exhausted or fatigued drivers are a real safety risk.
Once you learn the truth about the consequences of drowsy driving, you will likely try to avoid getting behind the wheel when you feel fatigued and may even watch more closely for signs of exhaustion in other drivers. Why is drowsy driving such a serious safety concern in the United States?
Drowsy driving is a shockingly common problem
Researchers admit that self-reported data is often inaccurate. Few people want to admit that they do things they know are unsafe, even if they provide those statements in an anonymous way.
Given that under-reporting is a known issue, the fact that one in 25 drivers will admit to falling asleep at the wheel at least one time in the last 30 days should give you pause. Those drivers may have fallen asleep multiple times, and others may not have admitted to the issue.
Drowsy driving is riskier than you imagine
When somebody falls asleep at the wheel, they completely lose control over their vehicle. They might swerve off the road or release muscle control over their foot, resulting in a drastic increase in their speed.
Falling asleep is only the most observable consequence of drowsy driving. For every driver who admits to falling asleep at the wheel, there will be dozens of others who don’t lose consciousness but who drive with their ability impaired by exhaustion. The impact of fatigue on the human brain is very similar to the effects of alcohol. It will affect everything from focus and decision-making to reaction times and motor control.
You can prioritize your own safety and the well-being of others by choosing not to get behind the wheel when you feel exhausted. You can also pay closer attention to the road at times of day when exhaustion is more likely to affect people, such as during the afternoon rush hour and at night after the sun has set.
Recognizing how fatigue contributes to your overall risk of a motor vehicle wreck could help you make better choices about when and how you drive.