SBT Car News

Why is Drowsy Driving Dangerous?

why drowsy driving is dangerous

From the minute you learn how to drive, the first thing your instructor tells you to do is to stay alert and active when you’re behind the wheel. Every driver must realize that one wrong move can cause harm for many on the road. It’s not only dangerous for themselves but others too.

Hence, it’s best to always follow the rules and drive safely.

Despite all the driving rules and traffic laws, and regulations, drowsy driving has been a major problem in countries. It’s very common in the US and the UK. Before getting into the nitty-gritty of drowsy driving and its risks, let’s first focus on what is meant by it. Drowsy driving is running a car while feeling sleepy. In such situations, the driver is cognitively impaired, like losing the sense of what is going around.

By now, you must have realized why is drowsy driving dangerous. Here, we have mentioned the causes of drowsy driving, why it is dangerous, its effects, and the preventive actions that can help in combatting it.

Reasons for Drowsy Driving

Before you start focusing on why is drowsy driving dangerous, let’s focus on the factors that make drivers feel drowsy:

1.    Sleep Disorders

Some people have sleep disorders, which restrict and interrupt their sleep. As a result, they feel drowsy even when driving. If these disorders aren’t diagnosed and treated, they can induce daytime drowsiness too. For example, sleep apnea occurs when you get breathing pauses while sleeping.

2.    Medications

Many over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs cause prolonged grogginess. In some cases, the dietary supplements or multivitamins taken at night also lead to drowsiness. Hence, it’s best to ask your doctor if the medicines have any side effects.

We have found that some medications are taken for blood pressure, muscle pain, and cough, leading to drowsiness.

3.    Sleeping Less than 6 Hours

The National Sleep Foundation has claimed that when people sleep less than 5 hours, they feel sleepy at odd hours. The ones sleeping only six hours a night are also expected to be involved in drowsy driving fates.

4.    Commercial Drivers

The risk of drowsy driving is higher among people who have a driving job. It is because they operate vehicles constantly, making them sleepy and tired. The commercial drivers operate heavy vehicles like tractor-trailers, buses, and tow trucks. Also, they drive for long hours and mostly have a night or rotating shifts. Hence, they have a greater possibility of drowsy driving.

Moreover, the professionals with long working hours or tough jobs also face the same problem. The drowsy driving statistics show that doctors, nurses, and people in different roles also face similar sleeping issues. The increasing competitiveness and challenges have affected the routine life of people. As a result, the probability of drowsy driving is also increasing.

Why is Drowsy Driving Dangerous?

How many times did you get late at night from a party or late-night dinner? Or maybe you were feeling lethargic when driving to work in the morning? Were you struggling to keep your eyes wide open while driving? Unfortunately, many of these things have become a part of routine life as they fail to identify the risks of driving this way.

Even though it’s too risky to drive this way, these situations have become common. Driving while drowsy distracts the drivers, paying less attention to the road. Also, their response time is affected. Maybe they don’t see a speed breaker or a speed sign. They might also miss a traffic signal or a turning. All this poses a risk to the driver and others.

Moreover, the drivers lose their knack to make the correct choices in such circumstances. They fail to judge the peril as they are incompetent to process information. It decreases their performance and motivation.

All this has become a major reason for increasing accidents. These are more common in the morning and late at night. Some also say that early afternoon is also an uttermost phase for drowsiness. Most accidents occur when drivers avoid or stop the car on time.

Drowsy Driving Statistics

Around 50% of drivers have admitted driving while being tired in America. Also, 20% have fallen asleep behind the wheel. Imagine how dangerous it is.

Moreover, it has been reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that drowsy driving led to 100,000 car crashes in 2020. It also accounted for 1,500 deaths in the same year with 71,000 non-deadly damages. These figures are consistently increasing year on year. In comparison, drunk driving has resulted in 9,949 fatal crashes.

The experts state that measuring the blood alcohol level is fairly easy. However, it’s challenging to assess sleep deprivation. Hence, the drivers don’t admit to feeling tired or sleepy while driving. As a result, these cases aren’t often reported.

The reports further indicate that anyone can drive while sleepy without realizing why drowsy driving is dangerous. However, some are more prone to it. These include:

  • People take over-the-counter medication or certain prescribed drugs like antidepressants or pain relievers.
  • Truck and delivery drivers.
  • People with sleeping disorders like apnea.
  • Individuals are working at odd hours.
  • Business travelers.
  • Individuals with a tough schedule.

Effects of Drowsy Driving

For decades, drowsy driving has been identified as one of the major reasons behind road accidents. Despite this, it hasn’t achieved much attention like drunk driving. Also, many countries have failed to set laws against drowsy driving. Recently, experts have been highlighting why is drowsy driving dangerous.

In many countries, drowsy driving is underreported as drivers don’t accept dozing off. So, here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Repeated yawning
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Mental fogginess
  • Unable to control the steering
  • Missing traffic signals, exits, or road signs
  • Off-track driving

Drowsy driving is always risky. Hence, to avoid the effects of drowsy driving, it’s best to take the necessary precautions. Don’t drive when you are feeling dizzy. Don’t put yourself or others at risk.

Ways to Prevent Drowsy Driving

The alarming statistics have highlighted the need to find ways to prevent drowsy driving. Here are some ways that can help you prevent drowsy driving considering the effects of drowsy driving:

  • Sleep enough

It’s best to ensure that you sleep for the recommended hours for average adults. It doesn’t only prevent drowsy driving but also has positive effects on your health.

  • Embrace good sleeping habits

You can initiate with going to bed earlier and getting up early. If you follow the same routine every day, it will help you feel more lively and fresh. For this, you can keep your room dark to make it comfortable. Also, avoid using your phone at night. Late-night meals and caffeine can be bad for your sleeping pattern.

  • Consult your physician

Consult a doctor if you have any sleeping disorder or sleep at night. It’s better to consider your symptoms and follow the treatment options suggested by your physician.

  • Avoid unnecessary medications

Some people take unnecessary medications like painkillers and paracetamol. These aren’t good for health and can easily affect sleeping behavior. It’s good to avoid these until and unless the physician has prescribed it.

  • Avoid alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption is one of the primary reasons for affecting sleeping patterns. Excessive drinking makes you feel drowsy too. Hence, control your alcohol intake as much as possible.

  • Avoid driving late or alone

If you’re feeling low or exhausted, don’t drive. Also, if you’ve got late at night, take a cab or ask a friend to drop you off. Of course, you must also avoid driving alone in such cases. However, it can help in preventing the effects of drowsy driving.

Additionally, if you’re going on a long trip, don’t go alone. It’s best to have more people who can drive so that you all can take rounds. Also, pull over at rest stops and try taking a short nap. It will help in freshening up.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that drowsy driving is unsafe. If you’re still wondering why is drowsy driving dangerous, start focusing on its effects and impact. The drowsy driving statistics are also scary as it shows that the accidents occurring due to drowsiness are increasing year by year.

Drivers who do not get sufficient sleep should not be driving. Or else they don’t only put themselves at risk but also others. If you feel the same, hire a cab or ask someone else to drive you home. Follow the rules and always emphasize safe driving to prevent drowsy driving.