Even if you generally make safe driving decisions, you may get behind the wheel in a situation that diminishes your ability. You may avoid using your phone while driving or getting behind the wheel after you have consumed alcoholic beverages or certain prescription medication.
Despite those efforts, you probably frequently drive with diminished ability because of exhaustion or fatigue. Many people fail to understand how dangerous it can be to drive when they haven’t had adequate sleep or have gone a particularly long time without rest.
How does fatigue contribute to your likelihood of a crash?
You could fall asleep at the wheel
In a shocking analysis of self-reported driving behaviors, the government has found that as many as one in 25 drivers have will admit to falling asleep at the wheel at least once in the last 30 days.
Some of those drivers could habitually lose consciousness at the wheel and yet continue driving when they know they feel exhausted. Anyone who nods off, even for a few seconds, could cause a life-altering crash.
Exhaustion affects your driving skill
Many safety experts will specifically compare fatigued driving with drunk driving. Those who study human physiology will often describe how the impact of inadequate sleep mirrors the way that alcohol affects the brain and body. In addition to having a hard time staying awake, it is more difficult to focus on the task you want to perform when you are in a sleep-deprived state.
Making the right choice as quickly as you need to can also be difficult. Your response time will be longer, and your ability to focus may also suffer. The longer you have gone without sleep, the more impaired your exhaustion makes you.
Those who have gone almost a full day without sleep will display behavior similar to that of a driver who is over the legal limit for alcohol. Quite a few people rely on caffeine to counteract their fatigue, but stimulants only mask exhaustion. They do not resolve it.
Obviously, driving while drowsy is a very dangerous choice, and you can use this new knowledge to make safer decisions. Learning about what puts you at risk for a car crash can help you avoid certain risk factors.