It’s common sense that driving while under the influence is not only dangerous to yourself and other drivers, but it is also illegal and you can be prosecuted for doing so. What people may not realize is when you are driving while exhausted, it can be just as dangerous as it is while driving drunk.

Car accidents are a severe concern, not just to people with persistent sleep issues like sleep apnea, but also to anybody who gets behind the wheel when they haven’t gotten enough rest. The dangers of a sleepy driver is serious. Shockingly, the majority of the population have admitted to driving when tired.

Drowsy Driving is a Real Danger

Driving when drowsy is a common occurrence. A survey by the National Sleep Foundation says that as many as 60% of Americans have confessed to driving while tired. The AAA Foundation found that 33% of adults have confessed to driving while inebriated. Surprisingly, nearly 40% of those polled admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. That’s scary.

As you can see, the figures are alarming since it is generally acknowledged that drowsy driving can lead to an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are around 100,000 collisions and over 1,500 fatalities per year that are caused by a driver that is tired. Unfortunately, this is a conversative number, since there is not a conclusive test for determining a driver’s drowsiness. Collision reporting in the US isn’t always accurate. Furthermore, sleep-deprived driving accounts for up to 30% of all accidents in Europe, and this is with more consistent data.

Even if you sleep, it is recommended that you sleep a full eight hours. Research shows that there is a direct impact of hours slept and the chances of being involved in a car accident. Those who sleep six or seven hours a night have double the chances of getting into an accident than those who got a full eight hours. As you can see, even mild mild sleep loss might put a person in danger.

Driving Drunk vs. Driving Tired

It’s evident that dozing off while driving is harmful. Is it, however, as risky as driving while intoxicated? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Slower response times, as well as poorer attention, mental processing, and your decision-making ability is all diminished when you are tired. You become tired when you have multiple nights of poor sleep (which is less than 6 hours) or if you do not get a full eight hours for one night.

Driving drunk or when tired were found to be equally dangerous in a research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which was assessed from hospitalized people in car collisions. Both of these situations increased the likelihood of being involved in an accident by double.

Another research study found a link between being tired and blood alcohol concentration (BAC), in terms of the likelihood of a car accident. A BAC of.05 corresponds to being awake for 18 hours; a BAC of.10 is equal to staying awake for a full 24 hours, which is higher than the legal limit of.08.

Driving Drowsy: Illegal?

The answer is yes, but not even every situation. In New Jersey, for example, a person who hasn’t slept in 24 hours and is behind the wheel is classified as being reckless, the same as driving under the influence. Other states have passed or are considering legislation to penalize drowsy driving.

Ways To Help Avoid Drowsy Driving

Individually, we can take actions to safeguard us from a potential car crash with some of these suggestions.

– If you feel tired, take a nap before getting behind the wheel.  A 30-minute nap will significantly improve your alertness and response times.

– You may either have a friend drive or use public transit.

– Plan your drive during a time when you are unlikely to be exhausted. Maybe, you schedule to drive when you first get up or late in the evening after getting rest.

– Schedule a sleep study to rule out sleep problems if you’re always fatigued.

– If you suffer from sleep apnea, be sure you’re utilizing your CPAP machine correctly. It will alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms and has been shown to reduce your chance of being involved in an accident.

– Ensure that you have gotten enough rest! This cannot be emphasized enough. Sleep is essential to your driving habit, as well as your general wellness.

Even if you take all the necessary precautions, you may be the victim of another driver causing an accident because they are sleepy. Have a good car accident lawyer available to handle any legal recourse you may have to take. This is whether you were at fault or another driver was. Do not try to handle a case on your own, or you may miss out on the full compensation you should receive.

By Manali