Drowsy drivers impact the safety of more motorists than they may think. In fact, drowsy driving is one of the biggest risks that modern drivers face today. The fatalities and injuries linked to it continue to grow.
But what makes drowsy driving so dangerous in the first place? And why is the danger on the rise?
Drowsiness vs. intoxication
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discuss the impact drowsy driving has on road safety. Unfortunately, drowsiness has a huge impact on a driver’s ability to safely navigate the road. In fact, drowsiness has similar effects to intoxication. A drowsy driver cannot:
- Properly spot or react to danger
- Have quick reflexes
- Think through risky situations in a safe, quick way
- React to sudden changes in environment
- Predict potential threats
Likewise, drowsy drivers are at risk for falling asleep at the wheel. They might experience microsleep, too. These bouts of unconsciousness occur for a couple seconds at a time. But on the freeway, you can travel the length of a football field in just 3 seconds. Microsleep is thus just as dangerous as falling asleep at the wheel.
Sleeping results in many of the most high-injury and high-fatality crashes. This is due to sleepy drivers going over the meridian or driving off the road entirely. Of course, sleeping drivers cannot brake if traffic comes to a standstill, either.
Finally, drowsy driving poses a danger because of its prevalence. Many people treat drowsy driving as an average part of hitting the road. With so many people accepting this as normal behavior, the crashes and fatalities will only continue to grow.