Socially we’ve turned running on very little sleep into a badge of honor. From pulling all-nighters in order to finish large projects, to the pop culture phrase “But First Coffee” plastered across t-shirts and mugs, it’s clear we’ve diminished the dangers of sleep deprivation to an anecdotal part of modern life. However, there is a crucial everyday activity one should never do while sleep deprived, and that’s drive. Here are three reasons why you should never drive drowsy according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When you are tired you are less able to pay attention to the road.
When your ability to assess your surroundings is compromised you might not notice obstacles or hazardous road conditions. This decrease in awareness can lead to accidents. Research estimates that nearly twenty percent of fatal automotive accidents in the U.S. involve a drowsy driver.
Fatigue slows our reaction times.
Compounding the issue of decreased awareness is a tired person’s slowed reaction time. If a drowsy driver does notice an oncoming car or any other dangerous road obstacle the latent period between the recognition of the problem and the response is significantly increased. This delay can result in accidents that could have been avoided by a faster reaction.
Being tired affects a driver’s ability to make good decisions.
After being awake for just eighteen hours drowsy drivers behave similarly to a driver with a .05 blood alcohol level. After twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation, driver response is closer to that of a .10 blood alcohol level, well above the legal limit.
Of course one of the most frightening possible results of drowsy driving is falling asleep at the wheel. The CDC reports that one in twenty-five drivers has fallen asleep while driving in the last thirty days. Crashes involving drowsy drivers often show no indications the driver tried to avoid the collision. Frequently there are no skid marks left, or signs of the driver swerving to avoid the accident. Whether this is because of the drivers inhibited reflexes, or because the driver has fallen asleep the results are often the same. The CDC estimates there are up to 6,000 fatalities a year caused by drowsy drivers. So, if you pull that all-nighter, or extra shift at work call a friend or a car service to drive you until you can get some sleep.