When you think of dangerous driving behaviors, your mind likely goes to things like texting while driving or intoxicated driving. The most dangerous driving behaviors share one thing in common: distraction.
Of course, following that line of logic, drowsy driving is also a risky behavior that creates distractions a driver cannot ignore. So should you worry about the safety impact of drowsiness as you drive?
Mental and physical effects of drowsiness
The Sleep Foundation looks into the safety impacts related to drowsy driving. First, drowsiness affects you both physically and mentally. Physically, you will struggle with slow reflexes and be unable to brake, turn or speed up as quickly as you would if you had a full night of sleep under your belt.
You may also suffer from micro sleeping, or even falling fully asleep at the wheel. Microsleep happens in bursts of a few seconds, where you essentially pass out behind the wheel and then snap awake again. Unfortunately, it only takes three seconds to travel the length of a football field on the freeway. Losing consciousness in any form for any amount of time could easily increase your chances of crashing.
Mentally, you will experience forms of “brain fog”, making it hard to concentrate or focus. You may not notice encroaching dangers or potential risks that you otherwise would have. You will also struggle to keep your calm and may feel more prone to aggressive driving behaviors like speeding and tailgating, which all increase the chance of crashing.
Wakefulness tips and tricks do not work, either. In essence, if you drive drowsy, nothing you do will combat the drowsiness and its negative impacts. This is crucial to keep in mind.