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Why is Drowsy Driving so Dangerous?

Drowsy driving is incredibly dangerous for motorists. The risks associated with fatigued driving are very similar to the risks associated with driving a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many people who would not ever drive their cars while drunk will think nothing of getting behind the wheel on very little sleep, even though the impact of fatigue can be very similar to being intoxicated. You need to know how being tired can effect driving abilities so you can make smart and informed choices about whether or not you are fit to drive.

Why is Drowsy Driving Such a Risk for Drivers?

Drowsy driving is dangerous because when your body is too tired, you start to experience a host of physical symptoms that can include:

  • Difficulty concentrating on what is going on around you.
  • Impaired decision making.
  • Slower reflexes.
  • Decreased cognitive function.
  • Falling asleep behind the wheel.

When you are driving, you have to be able to pay attention to what is going on around you, make decisions on based on the actions of others around you, and react quickly if you are approaching a situation where a motor vehicle accident could potentially occur. If you are too fatigued, exhaustion will compromise your driving abilities, making the chances of a motor vehicle collision much greater.

NPR recently took a close look at exactly how dangerous it is when you decide to drive while you are fatigued. NPR's report revealed that a motorist who got four to five hours of sleep, instead of the seven to nine hours people need, was four times as likely to get into a crash. This is the same level of risk faced by a drunk driver. A motorist who got five to six hours of sleep, which is pretty close to that recommended amount of at least seven hours, still faces double the risk of a crash.

Based on these findings, it should come as no surprised around 20 percent of car accident fatalities occur in accidents that involve at least one fatigued driver. If you do not recognize the risks of drowsy driving and get behind the wheel when you're too tired to do so, you could become one of the many motorists who causes a crash that hurts or kills your loved ones, other motorists on the road, and quite possibly yourself.

It is simply not worth the tremendous risk to drive when you're fatigued. Try to get the recommended amount of rest as often as possible, but if you do find yourself feeling tired or nodding off behind the wheel, don't assume you can just keep going and power through. Stop and get some rest until you can be fully alert behind the wheel and you won't be presenting a danger to yourself or to others.

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