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How sleep-deprived drivers are similar to drunk drivers

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2021 | Personal injury |

You’re probably well aware of how dangerous drunk driving and distracted driving are. Between driver education and community awareness programs, these dangerous driving habits are well-known issues.

Fewer people recognize the risk of drowsy driving, in part because there is less media focus on this significant risk. With so many people over-stressed and under-rested, drowsy driving is a dangerously common practice.

While drowsy driving may seem like a non-issue compared with intoxication or distraction, in reality, drowsy drivers are an awful lot like drunk drivers. They can easily cause crashes because their drowsiness impacts their driving skill.

The longer someone goes without sleep, the worse they drive

The National Safety Council compares drowsy driving to drunk driving because the impact of exhaustion on the brain is similar to the effects of alcohol. If you have gone a full 20 hours without sleep, your driving skills decrease to a point comparable to being legally drunk.

The most obvious risk of drowsy driving is the potential to fall asleep at the wheel, but that is far from the only source of danger. Drowsy drivers also have increased reaction times when road circumstances change and difficulty focusing.

Additionally, even those who don’t fully fall asleep at the wheel may experience microsleeps where they doze off for only a few seconds and then quickly wake up, possibly without realizing it. Even a few seconds of unconsciousness can be enough to lose control of a vehicle and cause a crash.

If another driver says something about feeling tired or falling asleep after causing a crash with you, reporting that information to the police will help protect your right to compensation later.