Drowsy driving is one of the riskiest behaviors that drivers could engage in. At the same time, it does not seem to garner as much media attention or pushback as other forms of distracted driving, like intoxicated driving or texting while driving.
Why is it that drowsiness is such a problem? And why do people tend to treat it so differently from other, similar issues?
The impact of drowsiness
The NHTSA discusses the way drowsiness impacts crash statistics. First of all, drowsiness actually affects the body in a way similar to intoxication. Drivers will experience slowed reflexes, a lowered problem-solving capability, trouble recognizing and reacting to dangers, and a reduction in speed both physically and mentally.
In fact, officers often pull over drowsy drivers on suspicion of drunk driving because of how haphazardly they behave on the road. However, as they do not have a BAC above the limit, police officers will often let these drivers go.
How the public views drowsy driving
Many experts speculate that this type of distracted driving does not get as much attention because almost everyone has engaged in it at least once in their life. No one gets a perfect night of sleep every single time, but everyone must commute to work in the morning. Some people simply consider drowsy driving in the morning as an inevitability, rather than a danger to avoid.
On top of that, many people have driven while drowsy before and made it through the drive without issue. This creates a false sense of security, which can lead a driver into believing they can drive drowsy without issue. In reality, all it takes is one mistake to ruin or end a life.