Distracted driving exists as an umbrella term that encompasses many different actions. For example, texting while driving is a form of distraction, and so is drowsy driving. Unlike texting while driving, drowsy driving does not get as much media attention. Still, drowsy driving fatalities continue to increase every year.
What is it about drowsy drivers that poses such a high risk of fatal accidents? Is there anything drivers can do to reduce this risk?
The physical effects of drowsiness
The Sleep Foundation states that drowsy driving is on par with intoxicated driving when it comes to driving impairment. Drowsiness impacts the human body in a similar way. Both types of drivers struggle with attention span and focus. Many suffer from confusion and slowed reflexes. They may not be able to easily detect threats or react swiftly or appropriately in certain situations.
Drowsy drivers also suffer from microsleep, meaning they can briefly fall asleep at the wheel. During these moments of unconsciousness, anything can happen. Drowsy drivers cannot properly react to sudden stops and other dangers, leading to deadlier collisions.
A growing problem
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also look at the trends of drowsiness in drivers. Over the years, drowsy driving has grown into a more prevalent problem. These days, a majority of working age adults have admitted to driving while drowsy in the past. Many even admit to falling asleep behind the wheel.
Despite this, people continue to drive drowsy every day. The true threat of this behavior has not sunk into the general public’s conscious thought yet. Until it does, fatalities related to drowsiness may continue to rise.