Most people are aware that driving drunk involves a high risk of getting into a crash. However, fewer people are aware that driving when sleepy can also cause dangerous collisions. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adults in the Unites States have driven when drowsy and about one-third of adults have fallen asleep at the wheel.
The National Sleep Foundation also claims that driving when sleepy carries many of the same risks as driving when drunk. This fact may shock some drivers and make them question how this could be true.
How is drowsy driving like drunk driving?
Drowsy driving carries many of the same risks as drunk driving because sleep deprivation can cause some of the same effects to your body as the effects caused by alcohol consumption. Some of these effects include slower reaction times, reduced ability to focus and impaired decision-making abilities.
Being awake for 18 hours can have the same effect to your body as if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05. Being awake for 24 hours can have the same effect on your body as if you have a BAC of .10, which would be over the 0.8 legal limit.
Although drowsy driving and drunk driving have similarities, the two situations are also different. Unlike most drunk driving instances, drowsy driving often involves someone falling asleep at the wheel. If this happens, a driver will not try to stop, slow down or swerve to prevent hitting something, which can lead to high-speed, head-on collisions.
How to prevent drowsy driving
Getting enough quality sleep before driving is the only way to prevent drowsy driving. If you get enough sleep and are still tired, it may be worth talking to your doctor about the possibility that your drowsiness is caused by the medications you take and the possibility that you may have an untreated sleep disorder.
If you catch yourself driving while tired, it may be appropriate to pull over somewhere safe, drink some caffeine and take a 20-minute nap. If you wake up and you are still tired, it may be necessary to find somewhere to sleep for the night.
Drowsy driving can cause dangerous collisions. If you are injured in a crash because someone fell asleep at the wheel, it may be appropriate to seek justice. You may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and other costs associated with your injury.