When people think about dangerous driving behaviors, they often think of drunk or distracted driving. However, driving while you are tired or sleep-deprived can be just as deadly.
Drowsy driving may not seem to be that unsafe. After all, most people would likely say they have gotten behind the wheel after a late night or when they hadn’t slept well the night before. But just because something is common or isn’t technically illegal does not mean it is safe.
Drowsy driving by the numbers
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that drowsy driving is a factor in an annual average of 37,000 injury-causing accidents. And drowsy drivers could be responsible for nearly 6,000 fatal crashes a year.
Further, a study from AAA found that missing even a couple of hours of sleep in a night could increase a person’s risk of crashing by 400 percent.
How fatigue affects drivers
Studies have shown that drowsiness can affect drivers in many of the same ways that alcohol affects them. Fatigue while driving can result in:
- Slowed reaction times
- Compromised decision-making skills
- Loss of concentration
- Visual impairments
These conditions can make it impossible for a driver to make safe, fast decisions while driving.
Tired drivers might drift out of their lane and lose control of their car if they overcorrect. They could fail to stop or swerve in time to avoid hitting something. Drowsy drivers might also speed or run through stop signs and red lights.
In other words, a drowsy driver poses a threat to themselves and everyone else on the road, even if they do not fall asleep.
Avoiding a crash caused by fatigue
The best way to avoid a drowsy driving accident is to refrain from driving if you are tired or sleep-deprived. If you start to feel sleepy behind the wheel, pull over to a safe spot and rest or ask someone else to drive.
You might also consider the times you drive. If it is late at night, there may be a higher risk that you or another driver around you is sleepy. And if you take medication that causes drowsiness, you might wait to drive until the effects wear off.
Utilizing these tips could help you avoid getting seriously injured in a crash caused by fatigue.