If you feel so tired and burned out that you have trouble focusing on reading your emails or staying awake without caffeine, it’s a sign that you may be pushing yourself too far. Exhaustion or fatigue can have dire consequences for your overall health and work performance.
Fatigue can also put you at serious risk on the road. The more tired you are when you get behind the wheel, the more likely it is that you could cause a crash. Even if you don’t fall asleep, exhaustion affects brain function and decreases your driving skill.
While most people recognize that drunk driving and distracted driving are dangerous, they overlook a third, seriously dangerous form of driving. Drowsy driving or fatigued driving can put you at increased risk of crashing.
What does exhaustion do to drivers?
Researchers have found that the effects of fatigue or drowsiness are similar to the effects of alcohol. You may have a hard time staying awake, experience difficulty making good decisions, have a longer reaction time and even struggle to stay focused. Any one of these issues on their own could lead to a crash, but all of them combined can drastically increase your risk of making bad decisions at the wheel.
The less you sleep, the greater your risk for a crash. Someone who only gets six or seven hours of shut-eye is twice as likely to get into a wreck as someone who gets at least eight hours of sleep. If you sleep less than five hours, you are four to five times as likely to get into a crash.
You can keep yourself well-rested, but can you spot a drowsy driver?
The sad truth is that while you can prioritize your own safety by making sure you get enough sleep or having a friend drive when you feel too tired to be safe, it can be hard to detect signs of exhaustion or fatigue in other people on the road.
Rather than suspiciously eyeing every driver near you, it is probably best for you to just continue to monitor traffic for signs of dangerous habits. Given that drowsy drivers have some of the same cognitive issues as drunk drivers, you may spot them making questionable maneuvers on the road.
If you do not notice them until it is too late, you can likely hold a drowsy or fatigued driver responsible through an insurance claim or even a lawsuit if they cause a crash that hurts you or wrecks your vehicle.