Everyone knows that drunk driving is not only dangerous, but has the potential to be life-threatening. You are probably also aware that driving while drowsy can be dangerous too, especially if you happen to fall asleep at the wheel. However, what a lot of people do not realize is that even regular drowsy driving can drastically inhibit cognitive function and can pose a real threat to the driver and everyone around them.

In fact, studies have shown that drowsy driving is as dangerous or worse than drunk driving. The popular television show Mythbusters proved this point, when they compared the driving test results of an individual that has been drinking versus a driver that is simply fatigued. Discovery Channel writes:

Although both situations – downing a couple of shots and staying up all night – clearly impaired Tory and Kari’s driving skills, causing them to make mistakes and veer out of their lanes, the lack of sleep had more dangerous effects. Compared with cruising around while tipsy, sleep deprivation caused Tory to drive 10 times worse; sleepy Kari’s driving was three times more erratic.

Of course, it makes sense that if we feel like we may actually fall asleep at the wheel, we are aware of the danger and are apt to pull over and take a nap before driving any further. But with no real way to test the level of someone’s drowsiness as one can with drinking alcohol, how can we truly know the limits on our own tired driving before it is too late?

Fortunately, Safe NY has a list of symptoms that indicate when fatigue is having negative effects on your driving.

Drowsiness causes: slow reaction times, impaired judgment and vision, decline in attention, decreased alertness, increased moodiness and aggressive behavior, problems with processing information and short term memory.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, signs of drowsiness while driving may include:

  • Turning up the radio or rolling down the window
  • Impaired reaction time and judgment
  • Decreased performance, vigilance and motivation
  • Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or your head up
  • Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
  • Yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating and missing signs or exits
  • Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive

Clearly, drowsy driving is not a problem meant to be overcome with the sheer willpower to stay awake. The decreased alertness that occurs with sleepy driving can cause serious harm to both drivers and anyone else on the road. Just as you would never want to drink and drive, it’s time to think twice about drowsy driving. The statistics on harm caused by drowsy driving are startling. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine states:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since currently it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness.

While these statistics can be shocking, one reason that they are so high is because not everyone understands the gravity of the drowsy driving’s effects. We hope that you will be more conscious about your level of fatigue while driving in the future, in order to protect the lives of yourself and those around you.

If you have been involved in a car accident where you were at fault, please contact the lawyers at Revelli & Luzzo. We are here to protect you and your rights.

Have you ever found yourself driving while drowsy? Did you notice the effects that it had on your cognitive function?