It’s common knowledge that driving while intoxicated can be dangerous. But it’s not often that you hear about that people who too sleepy to drive calling for a sober ride.
However, research reveals that when a driver goes behind the wheel after being awake for 24 hours, they can be just as impaired as someone with the legal blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.08%. This means that drivers who face sleep deprivation can veer off the road cause accidents just like drunk drivers.
Almost 800 people died in fatal car crashes in 2017 because people chose to drive in a drowsy state. But active prevention by every driver can help reduce this statistic in years to come. There might always be a rare occasion where someone suddenly falls asleep behind the wheel for no apparent reason. However, in many cases, people can avoid being involved in a drowsy driving accident if they:
- Improve their sleep schedule: Adults should aim for eight hours of sleep a night. In fact, a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that individuals who only sleep six to seven hours a night, increase their likelihood of being involved in a crash by two times. And people who sleep for five hours a night or less, increase their likelihood of crashing by four to five times.
- Get a sleep disorder diagnosis: In a National Sleep Foundation poll, over one-fourth of adult participants admitted to driving to work while drowsy at least a couple times a month. So, if a driver is on a consistent sleep schedule and still feels drowsy ahead of many drives, it’s important to see if a doctor can help uncover and treat a sleep disorder.
- Call for a ride: If you are questioning your ability to stay alert and awake behind the wheel even slightly, it’s crucial to ask for a friend or family member to drive you to your destination. You can also use a rideshare service or public transportation if it’s available in your area.
Remember that adjusting your sleep habits doesn’t only benefit other drivers, but it could also change or save your life.