Most of us have heard so much about the dangers of drinking and driving that we would never dream of sliding behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Yet, we seldom think twice about going for a drive while we’re tired.
The truth is that while there aren’t any actual laws about sleep-deprived driving, the action is very dangerous. The United States Department of Transportation reports that in drowsy driving incidents resulted in nearly 700 deaths during 2019. It’s impossible to know exactly how many actual accidents were the result of drowsy driving.
We know that alcohol dulls our senses and makes it difficult to react appropriately when things start to unwind. The same is true when we’re tired. All it takes is a single driver hitting the brakes or turning in front of you for an accident to happen. While fully alert, you might have been able to avoid a collision, but when you’re sleep-deprived, you react too slowly, or worse, fail to even realize that you need to react at all.
The other problem with sleep-deprived driving is that sleep deprivation, like alcohol, can cause you to make poor decisions. This poor decision can lead to reckless driving behavior that makes you a danger to yourself and everyone else.
The biggest danger of drowsy driving is that you’ll fall asleep. All it takes is to close your eyes for a second and doze off. At this point, your car is operating all by itself. You can drive off the road, collide with another car, change lanes so you’re heading the wrong way. Falling asleep at the wheel has resulted in numerous fatal car accidents.
Don’t assume that you can use caffeine to stay awake while you’re behind the wheel. The only way to truly prevent being the cause of a drowsy driving incident is to make sure you are fully awake and alert each time you hit the road. If you’re tired, postpone your trip and take a nap. Being late is far better than the alternative.
If you feel yourself getting tired while you’re in the middle of a commute, don’t try pushing through the fatigue. Instead, find a safe place to pull off the road, such as a gas station or grocery store parking lot. Lock your doors and try to take a nap.
If your drowsy driving leads to an accident, you could be ticketed for reckless driving plus other moving violations. If someone is hurt or killed during the incident, you could find yourself facing vehicular manslaughter charges as well as a civil lawsuit.
- On December 1, 2021