Most people understand the potential dangers of falling asleep while behind the wheel. However, less recognize that driving while drowsy also poses serious risks. Due to issues with reporting and identifying drowsiness as a cause, the current estimates and data do not paint a clear picture of the number of drowsiness-involved accidents and the resulting injuries and deaths.
To help protect themselves and those with whom they share the road, it benefits drivers to understand the potential dangers of driving while drowsy.
Effects of drowsiness
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsiness may cause several driving impairments for motorists. Due to tiredness or fatigue, people may have slowed reaction times. This sometimes affects their ability to make sudden steering adjustments or to brake unexpectedly. Additionally, drowsiness often impacts people’s attentiveness and ability to focus on the road, as well as their decision-making.
According to the National Safety Council, sometimes quick bursts of sleep take over drivers unintentionally and almost without notice. When micro-sleep occurs, people experience between four and five seconds of involuntary inattention. During that time, their vehicles may cover the length of a football field when traveling at highway speeds. As such, they may miss changes in the traffic conditions, hazards or other factors that require abrupt and immediate corrections and, as a result, cause potentially serious wrecks.
Accidents involving drowsy drivers occur more often than people realize, leaving the tired motorists and others with potentially serious or fatal injuries. Those who suffer injuries in such crashes may consider their options, such as pursuing financial compensation for their collision-associated losses.