Is drowsy driving as dangerous as drunk driving?

Drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving, and it injures and takes the lives of many on a yearly basis.

Most drivers in Kentucky recognize that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. However, fewer drivers realize that trying to drive while sleep deprived can be just as hazardous to other drivers, passengers and pedestrians as drunk driving.

Drowsy driving has similar effects on the body as driving under the influence of alcohol. For example, drivers who attempt to operate a vehicle after being awake for 18 hours straight are prone to driving like they have a blood alcohol content level of 0.05. Additionally, driving after being awake for a 24-hour period is the equivalent of driving with a BAC level of .10, states the National Sleep Foundation.

Who is most likely to drive drowsy?

According to the NSF, one-third of U.S. adult drivers have actually fallen asleep behind the wheel and sixty percent of adults have driven while feeling drowsy. Although all drivers are at risk of drowsy driving, some are more likely to engage in this dangerous activity than others, including the following groups of people:

  • Commercial drivers, including those who operate vehicles like tractor trailers, buses and tow trucks
  • People who work long shifts or shifts overnight
  • Drivers who suffer from untreated sleep disorders, like sleep apnea
  • Those who use medications that cause drowsiness

Although drowsy driving and drunk driving both make it difficult for drivers to pay attention to the road and make time-sensitive decisions, they often look different. This is because drunk drivers are often able to react to what is happening around them by driving slower, but drowsy drivers may start to fall asleep while travelling at high speeds.

Recognizing the signs of drowsiness

Drivers should be aware of the signs that indicate they are too tired to drive so they can prevent serious accidents out on the road. Some of these signs include yawning or blinking frequently, missing turns or exits and trouble remembering the past few miles driven. Drivers may also be too drowsy to drive if they continually drift from their lane or hit the rumble strips on the side of the road.

Reach out to an attorney

While some drivers in Kentucky may be diligent about not driving while they are too tired to do so, others are not as aware. Those who were injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver should reach out to an attorney in their area for assistance asserting their legal rights.