If you were to ask the average person what the most common driving mistakes are, they might pinpoint impaired driving or distracted driving. Either of these habits can serve as examples of inappropriate and dangerous behavior that puts others at risk.
Many people would completely overlook one of the most common and dangerous driving decisions that people make in modern America. Specifically, people don’t understand how dangerous it is to get behind the wheel when they feel exhausted or drowsy.
Driving while feeling fatigued or drowsy is incredibly dangerous. It creates a risk in two ways for that individual and other people nearby. Understanding those risks can help you make better decisions about when you drive.
They might fall asleep at the wheel
Temporarily losing consciousness while driving is more common than you might expect. One in 25 drivers will openly admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel in the last month at least once. It only takes a few seconds of sleep to lead to a catastrophic wreck.
When someone falls asleep at the wheel, they could go off the road or swerve into oncoming traffic. Even if they don’t immediately lose control of the vehicle, they won’t be able to respond to a deer jumping out in the road in front of them or a line of stopped traffic.
Falling asleep at the wheel is only a symptom of the broader issue, which is getting behind the wheel while feeling too tired to safely drive. For those driving drowsy but not falling asleep, there is another serious risk.
Drowsy driving is like impaired driving
The longer someone goes without sleep, the more their exhaustion affects their cognition. Your brain needs rest to function properly. When you have gone almost a day without sleep, the effect on your driving skill is similar to the effect of reaching the legal limit for alcohol.
Not even caffeine can fully counter the effects of exhaustion. Exhaustion can affect someone’s reaction time and their ability to stay focused on the road. Recognizing how dangerous fatigued driving is can help you make better decisions and identify drivers to avoid on the roads, potentially helping you reduce your risk of a motor vehicle collision.