Sleep deprived driving or commonly called as drowsy driving is the operation of motor vehicle while being cognitively impaired by a lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents and it can impair brain as much as alcohol can. As a result the driver may have slow reaction times, reduced vigilance and impaired thinking. In the worst case the driver may fall asleep behind the wheel.Each year, nearly 100,000 traffic crashes can be attributed to drowsy driving, including more than 1,500 deaths and over 70,000 injuries,according to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Who’s more likely to drive drowsy?
Time: Accidents are most common late at night and early in the morning. This is the body’s natural sleep period. Sleepiness also can peak in the middle of the afternoon. Even one night of sleep loss or poor sleep can put you at risk of drowsy driving. But certain people have a higher risk of drowsy driving than others.
Untreated Sleep Disorders-Many people with either obstructive sleep apnea or narcolepsy remain untreated. A common side effect of sleep apnea is severe daytime sleepiness. Narcolepsy can cause you to fall asleep suddenly. These sleep disorders put you at risk for drowsy driving.
Shift Work: People who work night shifts or rotating shifts are at risk for drowsy driving. This includes people who work as doctors, nurses, truck drivers, pilots and police officers. The risk of drowsy driving is great when they drive home after work.
Medication Side effects – Many medications cause sleepiness as a side effect.People taking these medications are at higher risk for drowsy driving accidents.