Why drowsy driving is so dangerous

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

We often hear about the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving. And both of these are indeed huge safety problems in southeastern Missouri and the rest of the country. But drowsy driving is another traffic hazard that does not get as much attention as it should.

Similar effects to drunk driving

You might not realize it, but driving after a night of little or no sleep can be as reckless and dangerous as drunk driving. It can affect a motorist in similar ways and significantly increase the risk of a severe car accident. Here are just a few common effects of driving while sleep-deprived, according to the CDC:

  • Slowed reaction times
  • Reduced ability to focus on the road
  • Impaired decision-making

Police departments generally don’t patrol for drowsy drivers as aggressively as for drunk drivers, which might partly explain how common it is. The CDC says that in a survey of drivers aged 18 and above, about 4 percent admitted to falling asleep at the wheel in the past 30 days. In 2017 alone, sleepy driving was a factor in at least 91,000 car crashes in the U.S. These collisions killed nearly 800 people and injured about 50,000.

An hour of sleep can make the difference

The line between a good night’s sleep and a bad one is thin. Those who averaged less than six hours per night were more likely to report nodding off while driving than those who slept at least seven hours per night. Good sleep habits can greatly reduce the risk of causing a car accident during the morning commute.

Even if you do your best to get enough sleep, you don’t know for sure if the driver of the next car over is dozing off. Getting hit by a drowsy driver can cost you your health, comfort and independence. You should not have to bear the financial burden of these damages because of someone else’s negligent decision to drive while sleep-deprived.

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Andrew Tarry