We’ve reported extensively in previous posts on the dangers associated with distracted driving. For most of us, when we think about distracted driving behaviors, our minds immediately turn to activities involving our smartphones. Indeed, texting, calling and surfing the web while driving are all extremely risky – and these activities result in a growing number of car accidents each year.
However, distracted driving does not merely refer to activities that take your eyes away from the road or your hands off the wheel. It also refers to any activity that takes your concentration off of the act of driving. In today’s post, we discuss one of the most dangerous driving behaviors of this type: drowsy driving.
Pressures to work long hours at the expense of sleep
In many professional arenas, there’s a certain expectation to put in long hours. You may be expected to be constantly on-call, 24 hours a day. Perhaps you view your 80-hour work week as a veritable badge of honor. However, if you’re sleeping too little and then getting behind the wheel, you’re putting yourself – and others – at serious risk.
Similarities between fatigue and drunkenness
Speeding down the freeway at 70 miles an hour requires an alert mind and quick reflexes. But when you haven’t slept enough, it compromises your reaction time. In fact, studies show that if you’ve been awake for just 17 consecutive hours, your response time behind the wheel is equivalent to that of a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%. This effect worsens with increased sleep deprivation.
In today’s society, fatigue is a feeling that many of us view as normal. As such, we have a tendency to underestimate its effects. If you’re feeling groggy as you get ready for your morning commute, consider finding alternative modes of transportation – a taxi or public transportation – to get yourself to work.