When talking about distracted driving, most people will first think of texting while driving or even speaking to passengers instead of concentrating on the road. However, distraction can come in many forms, including drowsiness.
But how is drowsiness a form of distraction? Does it carry the same risky impact that other forms of distracted driving hold?
What is distracted driving?
The Sleep Foundation examines drowsy driving and its impact on driver safety. Distractions encompass anything that takes a driver’s hands from the wheel, their eyes from the road, or their mind from the task at hand. With such a broad definition, almost anything could technically end up considered a distraction. Everything from drinking water to speaking with a passenger technically falls under this category.
Drowsy driving does, too. Primarily, it functions as a cognitive distraction. When a driver is too tired, they simply cannot focus on their surroundings well. They will miss things like traffic lights, speed limit signs, or even cars suddenly stopping in front of them.
The physical impact of drowsiness
Drowsy drivers also suffer from physical impacts of drowsiness, too. For example, they often have slower reflexes and a delayed reaction time that actually leans closer to the speeds of intoxicated drivers than sober drivers.
Worst of all, drowsy drivers may even fall asleep behind the wheel. Total unconsciousness, even for a few seconds, is worse than any type of distraction as it renders a driver completely incapable of noticing their surroundings and reacting to potential dangers. These are just a few of the reasons why drowsiness as a distraction can cause so much potential harm.