There are a lot of very tired drivers out there on the roads. By and large, Americans today are running on fumes. We’re so sleep deprived that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared sleep loss an epidemic problem. That’s not any kind of exaggeration when you consider the fact that 70% of adults admit that they have trouble sleeping at least once a month and 11% suffer from problems sleeping every single night.
So how does a lack of sleep (or quality sleep) affect someone’s driving? Because of the way that sleep deprivation affects the human brain, tired drivers may:
- Get moody or irritable: This can show up as poor impulse control and lead to situations where a tired driver starts to respond irrationally to minor traffic problems and puts other people in danger through their aggressive driving.
- Show poor executive functioning: A driver whose reasoning skills are suffering is more likely to make poor decisions on the road, like switching lanes without an assured clear distance or running a red light because they don’t register the need to stop.
- Evidence poor reaction times: A lack of sleep simply makes it harder for someone to react to hazards in the road or changing traffic conditions in a timely manner, which can easily lead to wrecks.
You can do your part to prevent fatigue-related accidents on the road by trying to get adequate sleep before you have to drive and addressing any underlying conditions that are interfering with your sleep with your doctor. There’s not much you can do, however, about other drivers on the road — except to be conscious of the fact that not everybody out there is operating carefully. If you end up in a crash because of a fatigued driver’s mistake, find out more about your right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses.