What Drowsy and Drunk Driving Have in Common

Drive safely!Have you ever been on a road trip where you slept poorly the night before departing, but still had to drive hundreds of miles the next day to get to your destination? If so, keep reading, because you may have been lucky to avoid a car accident. Researchers have discovered sleep deprivation impairs alertness in similar ways to alcohol intoxication.

A study from the University of Oxford and the Royal Society for Public Health claims 24 hours of sleeplessness impairs alertness in a way comparable to having a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .10 percent. This is more than the .08 percent required to be considered drunk. At 17 hours awake, researchers claim it is comparable to having a BAC of .05 percent.

The study claims sleep deprivation causes impaired attention and concentration, reduced ability to multitask, and difficulties with decision-making. Sound familiar? These are some of the same performance-related symptoms caused by alcohol intoxication.

Let’s look into this possible relationship further to see how BAC impairs driving.

BAC of .05 percent: According to the Centers for Disease Control, drivers with BACs of .05 percent have lowered alertness, impaired judgement and difficulty steering.

BAC of .08 percent: Drivers with BACs of .08 percent have poor muscle coordination, impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, reduced ability to process information and poor perception.

How Common Are Drowsy Driving Accidents?

Sleep deprivation and drowsy driving have been linked to auto accidents by both the Centers for Disease Control and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to NHTSA statistics, an estimated average of 83,000 drowsy driving accidents occurred each year between 2005 and 2009.

If you have problems staying awake while driving, pulling over and getting some rest or asking another person to drive can help save lives.

The Lafayette personal injury attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat have 20 years of experience helping accident victims hurt by negligent driving.


2 Responses to What Drowsy and Drunk Driving Have in Common

  1. Looks like it is just as irresponsible to get behind the wheel of the car when you are sleepy as when you are intoxicated. Now we’re wondering whether someone will develop a roadside test for drowsiness. A sleepilyzer, perhaps?

  2. Great article and it might interest you folks to know there is a new online campaign asking drivers to pledge not to drive while fatigued. They’re using the hashtag #TakeABreakToStayAwake and it’s actually gaining a lot of traction.

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