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How does drowsiness affect driving?

You have probably heard about how drowsiness increases the chance of an automobile collision. But aside from the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel, just how does drowsiness affect your ability to drive? Even if you could stay awake, excessive fatigue can still endanger you and others on or near the road.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that drowsiness impairs your ability to drive. Senses and reflexes that you depend on to arrive safely at your destination may suffer from your lack of sleep.

Understanding the effects of drowsiness

Getting the right amount of sleep refreshes your mind and helps you to concentrate and perform once you wake up. If you try to drive following only a brief period of sleep, you may have problems focusing on the road. You need to be able to spot other drivers, including motorists who are not honoring the traffic laws and may hit you if you are unaware.

Studies have also shown that drowsiness slows people down. You may have to react quickly to events. If you do not detect danger and take the right action in time, you may suffer a serious or perhaps fatal accident.

Comparing drowsy driving and drunk driving

If you fear what a drunk driver could do to you on the road, you should know that a drowsy driver is sometimes no better than someone driving under the influence. The CDC points out that according to some studies, staying awake for no less than 18 hours is no different than possessing a blood alcohol content level of 0.05%. If you stayed awake for a whole day, you would likely have a BAC level higher than the legal limit of 0.08%.

Being drowsy also affects your body’s ability to process alcohol. If you imbibe just a little alcohol, you might not feel any effects. Conversely, if you stay awake for too long, the effects of even a slight amount of alcohol may increase.

Planning to get enough sleep

If you have a fast-paced schedule, it is easy to put off sleep in favor of your work or family activities. Still, most people depend on at least seven hours of sleep to feel refreshed the next day. If you put aside time to sleep, you might avoid becoming another car accident statistic.