Let’s face it the road isn’t always a safe place. This is especially true when we have to navigate roads with drunk and/or high speed drivers. But did you know that driving while being sleep deprived can be just as bad as speeding or driving while drunk?
According to the National Sleep Foundation or NSF, “nearly three-quarters of adults in America (71%) drive a car to and from work, and many are drowsy drivers.” We often rush around without thinking about how the lack of sleep might not only jeopardize our lives but the lives of those on the roads alongside us.
Many drivers are unaware that their cars become a deadly weapon when operated without proper rest. NSF reports that “sleep deprivation and fatigue make lapses of attention more likely to occur, and may play a role in behavior that can lead to crashes attributed to other causes.”
So who are these wearied drivers?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) drivers who are commercial drivers, shift workers that work the night shift or longer shifts, drivers with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, drivers who use sedative medications and drivers who do not get the adequate amount of sleep.
All of these drivers run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. What is more, unlike the breathalyzer to test for drunk drivers, there is no appropriate way to gauge whether someone’s driving is impaired by sleep deprivation. The EOBRs (Electronic Onboard Recorders) will only go so far to save a life.
What to do?
The wonderful news is that there’s an easy solution to this problem. Stay alert! The life you save might be your own. Only operate motor vehicles when you are well rested and try your best to do activities to lower your stress levels.
According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times.
Finally, if you suffer from a medical condition which may cause sleep apnea or taking medication that causes drowsiness, consult your physician. In the case of a medical condition you may want to consider public transportation until you can get clearance from your physician.