The yawning, the eyelid heaviness, the brain fogginess. The effects of drowsiness may seem a minor inconvenience when a person must stay awake, or simply an indication that he or she should get some rest. For drivers, however, the effects of drowsiness may have serious consequences.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving may contribute to as many as 6,000 fatal auto accidents every year across the U.S.
The risk factors for drowsy driving
In addition to not getting enough sleep at night, several other factors may add to the risk of people driving while drowsy. Some of the most common of these include the following:
- Working long hours or the night shift
- Having an untreated sleep disorder
- Operating tractor-trailers, buses or other commercial vehicles
- Using certain medications
Snoring at night also increases the likelihood of a driver falling asleep while behind the wheel. Due to these effects, people may have a greater risk of causing serious motor vehicle accidents that result in serious injuries or death for those involved.
The effects of drowsiness on driving
Beyond the danger of possibly falling asleep behind the wheel, drowsiness may create other impairments that affect people’s ability to safely drive their vehicles. According to the National Safety Council, fatigued drivers have a three times greater risk of getting into a crash. Drowsiness may slow motorists’ reaction times, make them less aware of hazards and reduce their attention. Drivers who have stayed awake for 20 hours or more may experience similar impairments to drivers with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08%.