You may assume that drunk driving poses more of a threat to others on the road than drowsy driving. But drowsy driving can alter your impairment and make your chances of causing a car accident more likely.
Your body needs an adequate amount of sleep every day to function well and make sound decisions behind the wheel. Lack of sleep can affect your reaction time, judgement and coordination while driving.
How drowsiness compares to drunk driving
Drinking too much alcohol and then trying to drive can impact your ability to drive in similar ways to not getting enough sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staying away for 18 hours is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content level of 0.05%. And when you drive after staying awake for 24 hours, you can experience similar effects to driving with a BAC level of 0.08%.
Tips for staying alert
Since sleep is crucial to safe driving, make getting enough sleep a priority. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep a day and develop good sleeping habits. If you have trouble with sleeping or have a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor about different treatment options.
Remember that although falling asleep at the wheel is hazardous, so is experiencing symptoms of sleepiness. Watch out for symptoms of drowsiness, which may include missing turns and exits, drifting from your lane, difficulty remembering the last few miles you drove, hitting the rumble strips on the side of the road and frequent yawning.