How dangerous is drowsy driving?

Driving tired is dangerous because it can reduce reaction time, increase distractions, affect decision-making and happen to anyone.

Massachusetts drivers often hear about the dangers of driving while texting or drinking, so driving while tired may seem like a minor inconvenience. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that crashes involving over-tired drivers resulted in 846 deaths over the course of a single year. And those are just the crashes that could be linked with tired driving. Remember, accident investigators may not always be able to tell that sleepiness contributed to a crash, so the dangers may be more prevalent than anyone realizes.

Reduces reaction time

No matter what time a person is out on the road, he or she will likely have to react to something in the environment. For example, if a truck ahead of a person's car loses an item out of its backend, he or she may need to quickly slow down to avoid the debris. Or if a deer runs out into the road, the driver may need to slow down or steer around the animal. Tiredness can make a person struggle to react to these changes in environment. This is especially true when the change is sudden.

Increases distractions

A drowsy vehicle operator may struggle to pay proper attention to the road. Whether the person's eyes are fluttering shut or his or her mind is simply in a daydream, the distractions caused by being tired can make a person forget what happened on stretches of road. Not paying attention while driving can lead to serious accidents and injuries.

Affects decision-making

A big part of driving responsibly is making smart decisions. A person has to judge when there is enough of a gap in traffic to make a left turn, for example. Being overtired could hamper the driver's ability to make wise choices while on the road. This can lead to an increased risk of getting in an accident or driving off of the road.

Happens to anyone

One of the biggest dangers of driving while sleepy is that it can happen to anyone. There are certain people who have a higher risk of driving drowsing, including the following:

  • People who recently changed medication.
  • Operators who failed to get a full night's rest.
  • Workers who have strange hours.
  • Drivers who suffer from untreated sleep disorders.

A young mother driving late into the night to get to her parent's house for the holidays is just as likely to get tired behind the wheel as a commercial driver who spends most of his time on the highway.

Residents in Massachusetts need to understand how dangerous driving while tired can be if they want to stay safe while out on the roads. No matter what led to an accident, it may be helpful to work with an attorney familiar with car and truck crashes.