Drowsy driving is one of the biggest risks on the road, and one of the most dangerous forms of distraction. In fact, it is even more of a risk in many ways than texting while driving, which takes a huge number of lives yearly.

But how do crashes and drowsy driving correlate? What is the tie between the two, and what determines how much of a risk drowsy driving poses?

How drowsiness affects the body

NHTSA looks into the impact of drowsy driving. First, it is important to understand that drowsiness is more than just simply feeling a little tired. True drowsy driving can easily result in the driver nodding off without meaning to, or engaging in microsleep. This involves falling asleep for brief periods of up to three seconds. These are completely uncontrollable and a driver cannot predict when they will occur.

Deadly highway crashes

This might not sound like a big deal until it comes to freeway driving speed versus distance. The average driver on a freeway travels fast enough to cover the length of a football field in five seconds. This means that a three-second microsleep is enough to cover almost an entire football field’s worth of space.

Needless to say, it is all too possible to crash into other cars in that time. It is also possible to veer off the road entirely, or into oncoming traffic, which can lead to often fatal and serious head-on collisions.

Drowsy drivers cannot react to dangers quickly or prevent accidents from happening. Because of the risks that drowsiness poses, it makes drowsy driving a huge problem for all drivers.