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Is drowsy driving as bad as drunk driving?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2021 | Blog, Car Accidents

Most Washington residents are aware of the dangers of driving while intoxicated. However, many may not be familiar with just how dangerous driving while sleep-deprived can be. In reality, 91,000 car crashes resulting in approximately 50,000 injuries were a direct result of drowsy driving in 2017.

The dangers of driving while sleep-deprived

Motor vehicle accidents happen all too often due to the fact that drivers are getting behind the wheel when they have not gotten sufficient rest. Many drivers do not equate being sleep-deprived as being anywhere similar to driving when they’re drunk. Unfortunately, many of the side effects of the two are similar.

When a person is drowsy, it affects their attention, decision-making, coordination, vigilance, reaction time and judgment. This can result in drivers performing various dangerous maneuvers on the roadway. Some common ones include weaving back and forth between two lanes, not maintaining an appropriate distance from other vehicles and veering off the roadway.

Drowsy driving is equivalent to drunk driving

Many of the side effects of drinking, like changes in depth perception and poor judgment, are exactly the same side effects of a sleep-deprived person. One study concluded that after being awake for 18 hours, a person’s reaction time, vigilance, hand-eye coordination and multitasking abilities are similar to a person who has a blood alcohol level of .05. After 20 hours of being sleep deprived, drowsy drivers are considered to have similar bodily reactions as a person who has a blood alcohol level of .08. After 24 hours of being awake, impairment is considered to be equivalent to that of having a blood alcohol level of .1.

As you can see, drowsy driving can be placed in a similar category as drunk driving. Unfortunately, many people are not unaware of the effects of drowsy driving and how dangerous it can be. Next time you feel tired, think twice before getting behind the wheel.

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