As a driver, it is important to remain in top form any time you get behind the wheel. This means physically, mentally and emotionally. Thus, anything that negatively impacts your physical state could potentially contribute to a crash. This includes drowsy driving.
But just how does drowsy driving impact drivers like you? What should you be aware of when it comes to the dangers drowsiness presents?
Physical impacts and microsleep
The Sleep Foundation takes a look at drowsy driving and how it can affect driver safety. First, driving drowsy severely alters a driver’s ability to handle oncoming dangers. Drowsiness makes it harder to notice oncoming dangers and slows reaction times. It also impacts reflexes and concentration.
Of course, in extreme cases, drowsiness may overwhelm you, leading to sleeping at the wheel or microsleep. Microsleep is a period of unconsciousness that occurs when you close your eyes for 1 to 3 seconds. Unfortunately, 3 seconds is all the time you need to travel the distance of a football field on the highway. This can lead to severe crashes, such as driving off the side of the road or across the median into oncoming traffic.
Signs of drowsy driving
Unfortunately, it is hard or even impossible to tell if drivers around you have suffered from lack of sleep and hit the road while drowsy. You may notice lane-changing, weaving or driving significantly slower or faster than the posted speed limit. But many times, it is too late to act by the time you notice.
This is why many safety campaigns have turned their sights toward drowsy driving as the next dangerous driving behavior to campaign against. After all, it costs potentially hundreds of lives.