Though it does not often get as much attention as other forms of dangerous driving, drowsy driving can actually have a huge impact on driver safety at large. It puts not only drowsy drivers at risk but also anyone else sharing the road with them.
How does drowsiness cause these elevated risks? And is drowsy driving dangerous enough to impact crash statistics at large?
Why drowsy driving is so prevalent
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pinpoints drowsy driving as an enormous risk to driver safety. It impacts drivers in a way similar to intoxicated driving, producing many of the same dangerous effects like trouble concentrating and slowed reaction times.
However, drowsy driving is often more socially acceptable than intoxicated driving. This means more people engage in it, which can have a direct impact on the crash statistics related to drowsy driving. The more people hit the road while exhausted, the higher the chances are of getting into a crash with someone who is too tired to drive.
Sleeping at the wheel
One of the biggest risks of drowsy driving is the chance of a driver falling asleep, too. This can also impact crash statistics, as a sleeping driver has no way of reacting to their surroundings or noticing approaching dangers. Sleeping drivers also have a history of driving off the side of the road or through the meridian into oncoming traffic, which often results in serious or even lethal collisions.
Due to the severity of these issues and the frequency that drivers hit the road while tired, drowsiness definitely causes more crashes and often results in deadlier crashes, too.