When discussing the dangers of the roadway, drowsiness is a risk that continues popping up over and over again. No matter what else changes on the road, it seems that drowsy driving persists as a risk no matter what.
But why is drowsy driving so risky? Why does it pose such a danger to drivers? And why does it continue to plague the roads even as other, similar dangers start to drop and lessen over time?
Similarities between drowsiness and intoxication
The Sleep Foundation looks at the impact drowsiness has on drivers. Drowsiness actually affects the body in a way very similar to intoxication. For example, both intoxicated and drowsy drivers struggle to pay attention to their surroundings. They have a hard time predicting dangers and reacting to the real threats that suddenly appear. They also struggle with physical aptitude and often lack the reflexes needed to appropriately deal with risky situations.
On top of that, both intoxicated and drowsy drivers may fall asleep at the wheel. This period of unconsciousness can last an undetermined amount of time, but even three seconds without paying attention to the road can cost the driver their life. After all, many fatal crashes occur when a driver veers off the road or into oncoming traffic during a period of unconsciousness.
The continued presence of drowsiness
As for why it continues to remain a danger? Many experts believe this is due to the fact that drowsiness is a more “acceptable” risky behavior than many other forms of distracted driving. After all, you do not “need” to text and drive. However, many people live crammed lives with such hectic schedules that drowsy driving often feels like an inevitability. This poses a huge hurdle for all awareness campaigns trying to bring the rate of drowsy driving down.