Most people understand why driving drunk can risk safety, so they avoid driving after consuming alcohol. However, plenty of people still drive when they are exhausted. Drowsy driving often sounds trivial compared to some other driving behaviors, but it is far from harmless.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation can cause someone to experience some of the same effects as if he or she had consumed alcohol. For example, it can reduce your ability to focus on the road and slow your reactions times.
How tired is too tired?
Being awake for 18 hours can make you drive as if you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05. Staying away a full 24 hours can make you drive as if you had a BAC of .10.
Pulling an all-nighter may seem like an obvious indication that you should avoid driving, but it isn’t always easy to tell if you are too tired to drive. For example, you may have had a restless night of sleep, you may have woken several times to care for a baby or you may have worked an extra-long shift at work.
Some other signs you may look for, include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Heavy eyelids
- Frequent yawning
- Bobbing your head
If you are not sure if you are rested enough to drive, it may be worth seeking an alternate form of transportation. If you are on the road when you notice sleep deprivation symptoms, it may be safest to pull over somewhere safe. Consider buying something with caffeine, like a cup of coffee, and taking a 20-minute nap.
However, these are only short-term solutions. Getting a full-night of sleep is the most effective way to correct the impairments caused by sleep deprivation.