A driver operating a motor vehicle while under the influence creates serious risks on the road. Beyond the criminal implications, one delayed reaction due to drinking too much can be life-changing, if not fatal, for both the driver and the victim.
However, a driver who hasn’t consumed any liquor or taken any illicit drug can present equal dangers if they are severely sleep-deprived. A person awake for more than 18 hours has similar traits to a drunk driver with a 0.05 BAC. A full 24-hour period is akin to a 0.10, higher than the legal BAC of 0.08 percent.
Less sleep. More accidents.
Driving while drowsy is often attached to professional drivers who spend significant amounts of time on the road operating trucks and buses. Yet, it can extend to any motor vehicle operator who fails to get enough sleep, putting others in danger due to dulled response times. A lack of sleep is not the only factor. Certain medications and undiagnosed sleep disorders can be equally dangerous and deadly.
Statistics bear out the dangers of sleep-deprived drivers on roads throughout the United States:
- Fifty percent of adult drivers admit to driving while tired, with one in 25 confessing to dozing off on the road
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 100,000 crashes were caused by drowsy driving in 2019, with nearly 700 fatalities
- The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drowsiness was a factor in 9.5 percent of all crashes and nearly 11 percent of collisions that involved airbag deployment, injuries, or property damage
Teenagers, twenty- and thirty-somethings comprise the most significant demographic who fall asleep behind the wheel. The most common time that accidents occur is overnights for these younger drivers.
Poor or lack of sleep is a growing problem that 25 percent of adults suffer from on a daily basis. Overall, U.S. residents’ taking the time to sleep or rest have dropped over the past 30 years, with “short sleepers” (six hours a night) on the increase.