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Why is drowsy driving so dangerous?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2023 | Car Accidents

Most people have driven drowsy at some point in their lives. This may be after a long shift at work or an extended night out. While drowsy driving may be common, it does not mean it is safe. 

In fact, driving while fatigued increases the likelihood of an accident significantly. Learn why it is so dangerous here. 

The impact on cognitive abilities

Drowsy driving is often likened to drunk driving – and for good reasons. Cognitive functions begin to decline when a person is sleep-deprived. This includes their ability to pay attention and make quick decisions quickly and reaction times. Just like alcohol, fatigue can slow the brain’s processing speed, making it difficult for drivers to react quickly in unexpected situations on the road.

Physical reactions and microsleeps

Drowsiness doesn’t just dull the mind; it also impacts the body. Heavy eyelids, head nodding and yawning are common physical symptoms. 

What’s even more alarming is the phenomenon of “microsleeps.” These are short, involuntary periods of inattention or sleep that can last a few seconds. During a microsleep, a driver traveling at 65 mph can cover the length of a football field without any awareness. This poses an extreme risk, especially on highways and at high speeds.

Underestimating the risk

One of the significant dangers of drowsy driving is the general underestimation of its risk. Many drivers believe they can push through their fatigue or are not as impaired as they are. This overconfidence can lead to reduced vigilance and a false sense of security, which might delay the decision to pull over and rest or switch drivers.

Drowsy driving is a silent yet deadly threat on Nashville roads. The combination of impaired cognitive abilities, physical symptoms and the tendency to underestimate its dangers makes it a critical issue. Awareness, regular breaks during long journeys and recognizing the signs of fatigue can help mitigate the risks and ensure safer roads for everyone.