When discussions start revolving around distracted driving and the dangers that it poses, many specific examples come to the forefront over and over again. Texting while driving often serves as the most prevalent example, but drowsy driving proves equally harmful.
In fact, recent studies have shown that drowsy driving may serve as one of the deadliest things that a driver can do.
How drowsiness affects the body
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration examines the negative impact of drowsiness on driver safety. Drowsy driving happens when a driver gets behind the wheel without having enough sleep beforehand. Many drivers also experience “road hypnosis”, which can dramatize the effects of the drowsiness already present.
Drowsiness impacts the body in a way similar to intoxicated driving. Many of the effects experienced by both drivers overlap. For example, drowsy drivers will struggle with perception, prediction of dangers and slowed reaction times. It is hard for them to react to potential crash scenarios before or as they occur, leading to an increase in serious or potentially deadly outcomes.
The deadliest aspect
The main factor that increases the deadliness of drowsy driving crashes boils down to one simple thing, though. Drowsy drivers often suffer from falling asleep at the wheel. They may experience microsleep, which lasts for bursts of up to 3 seconds. They might also entirely lose consciousness and doze for seconds or even minutes at a time.
When drowsy drivers fall asleep, they lose complete control of their vehicle. This often results in cars drifting over medians into oncoming traffic, or blowing through traffic safety signals. Those sorts of collisions often have a higher rate of severe or deadly injury.