Drivers across the board have a lot to worry about when it comes to preserving safety on the road. Everything from a small distraction to not getting enough sleep the night before could potentially lead to dangerous or even fatal crashes.
In particular, drowsiness has much stronger ties with roadway crashes than most people think. But just how and why does drowsiness make such a big impact?
How the public views drowsy driving
Sleep Foundation discusses the many impacts that drowsiness can have on driving. First of all, driving has a uniquely widespread impact due to the fact that it does not face the same demonization as other forms of unsafe driving behaviors. Among them include intoxicated driving and texting while driving.
On the other hand, some people view drowsy driving as an inevitability and a product of our current work and school culture. This means more people hit the road while tired or even sleep-deprived, which in turn ups everyone’s chances of getting involved in a crash.
How drowsiness affects drivers
Drowsiness itself contributes to crashes because it affects the human brain in a way eerily similar to intoxication. Drowsy and intoxicated drivers both struggle to concentrate, cannot predict oncoming risks and have slowed reflexes.
On top of that, drowsy drivers also have a risk of falling asleep at the wheel. A person could entirely conk out, or experience something called “microsleep”, in which you fall into light sleep over a period of 1 to 3 seconds when you blink. Unfortunately, when traveling at the speeds typical on a freeway, you can still travel the distance of a football field in 3 seconds. Needless to say, even a brief moment of unconsciousness can contribute heftily to the risks of a crash.