Drivers should always hit the road when fully rested and capable of concentrating at the highest ability. After all, a clear-headed driver can avoid many of the potential dangers that might lead to a crash.
On the other hand, drivers who do not get enough rest have a much higher probability of getting involved in crashes and other dangerous incidents. But how and why is this the case?
Reaction time and reflex impacts
The Sleep Foundation examines drowsy driving and its impact on drivers. In essence, drowsy driving sometimes serves as a form of distracted driving. Instead of distraction coming from an external source, the distraction comes from the lack of rest and inability to concentrate that comes with sleepiness or sleep deprivation.
In short, a tired brain cannot keep up with the many dangers a driver will come across on the road. Drowsy drivers suffer from a slowed reflex rate and have a harder time predicting potential dangers before they appear. They cannot react quickly – mentally or physically – to sudden changes around them, either.
Sleeping at the wheel
On top of that, drowsy drivers also suffer from microsleep, i.e. bursts of 3-5 seconds in which the driver actually falls asleep at the wheel. Though 3 seconds does not seem like much time, it is long enough to travel the length of a football field when going the speeds common on the highway.
Drivers may completely fall asleep at the wheel, too, leading to accidents in which a driver veers off the road or, more dangerously, across the traffic barrier into oncoming traffic. These are just a few reasons why drowsy driving is such a huge risk.