One of the hot button issues in the country is the dangers of driving drunk, but did you know that driving while tired or drowsy can be just as dangerous?
If you’ve ever driven without having gotten enough sleep, you’re probably familiar with the struggle of battling fatigue. Sometimes it’s easier than others, but whenever someone’s eyes are closed for longer than a blink, accidents occur.
Drinking alcohol has harmful effects, at the same time heavy fatigue can be just as detrimental. Making sure you handle both situations properly is the key to safe driving.
How bad is driving tired vs driving drunk? The following are important statistics about the dangers of driving while tired or while under the influence of alcohol.
Drowsy and Drunk Driving: The Stats
A recent study found that approximately 10% of accidents involve a drowsy driver. That may not sound like a huge number but consider the many different reasons that automobile accidents happen. With one out of ten accidents caused by being tired, it’s absolutely significant and needs to be addressed.
A previous study found that drowsy drivers were involved in around 20% of fatal crashes in the U.S. This is yet another alarming statistic.
The numbers for driving under the influence are comparable. The Insurance Information Institute reports that 28% of fatal crashes in 2016 were caused by drunk drivers.
In other words, driving without adequate sleep is comparable to the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
How Do Drowsiness and Intoxication Impair Your Driving?
Both drowsiness and intoxication impair your ability to focus on the road.
It’s already difficult to react properly to something unexpected in the road. How do you think someone would react if they weren’t completely awake? Or if they are under the influence?
The driver might not realize there’s something in the road at all, or could possibly execute an overly dramatic swerve, resulting in a rollover accident. Either way, driving requires focus, for the safety of yourself, as well as that of others.
Traffic signs and signals, speed limits, as well as lane lines must be rigorously followed in order to prevent injury and death on the roadway. If you’re overly tired or drunk and you don’t notice these important details, you’re a danger to everyone in the vicinity.
Certain situations, such as one-way roads and high-speed zones, may increase the likeliness of death or injury while driving impaired by lack of sleep or too much alcohol.
They Look the Same
To any nearby drivers, including highway patrol and police officers, drowsy drivers can be visually similar to a drunk driver. Both situations result in a decreased ability to control the vehicle and stay within marked lines.
While you may not have alcohol in your blood, you can be just as dangerous if you’re driving while extremely fatigued. You could end up being accused of driving under the influence or the cause a fatal crash. Ultimately, both situations can lead to similar results.
Who is Susceptible to Driving while Drowsy?
All motorists are susceptible to drowsy driving unless they are getting enough sleep. Young, old, male, and female, there’s no discrimination when it comes to being tired.
People who drive a lot, such as those who drive as an occupation, are more at risk since they spend more time on the road.
All alcohol drinkers are susceptible to being under the influence. Any drinking at all will impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
If you know you’re more likely to suffer impairment from drinking or not enough sleep, change your habits or use a designated driver for times when you tired or consuming alcohol.
How to Prevent Impaired Driving
Drowsy driving and drunk driving are both forms of driving while impaired. Luckily, there are ways to prevent both.
Know the Signs Before Getting Behind the Wheel
Before operating a motor vehicle, assess your ability to drive safely. Signs of drowsiness include frequent yawning, heavy eyes, inability to focus, and not remembering the last few minutes.
There are various methods of judging whether you’re too drunk to drive. Breathalyzers can be purchased for your use, or there are apps to help you decide. Ultimately, though, if you’ve had even one drink, you should ask someone else to drive you.
If you have to ask someone, including yourself, if you’re sober enough to drive, you’re not. Don’t get behind the wheel!
Know the Limits and Stick to Them
You shouldn’t be behind the wheel of any vehicle if you haven’t got enough sleep. Your goal should be seven to nine hours of sleep each night. You probably shouldn’t drive if you haven’t got at least six hours of sleep.
Any Illinois driver with a Blood-Alcohol content (BAC) of .08 may be charged with a DUI. A BAC as low as .05 may also constitute a DUI if there’s evidence of impairment. Limit your alcohol consumption to keep your BAC below those numbers.
Don’t Just Go by How You Feel
Feeling fine doesn’t mean you are. You may not think you’ve had too much to drink, and you may think you function properly on too little sleep. The truth is, both of these interfere with your ability to drive, whether you feel it or not.
All in all, if you’re too tired or you’ve been drinking, you shouldn’t be behind the wheel at all. Find someone else to drive for you, even if you think you’re fine.
Driving Tired vs Driving Drunk: Steer Clear of Both
There’s no winner in the driving tired vs driving drunk debate. Both are extremely dangerous and can lead to the death of yourself or others. The best course of action is to avoid both completely.
Impaired driving is a danger to everyone on the road. You’ll have to face the consequences if you choose to drive while impaired. This may mean losing your driver’s license or your freedom.