Yes. It is.
Impaired driving used to simply refer to drivers who were under the influence of drugs, alcohol or strong medication. Recently, however, many have started including fatigued drivers to that list. Getting on the road to beat traffic on the way to an early class or driving home from work after a double shift, drowsy drivers can pose a serious danger to everyone around them.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released data that compared drowsy driving to blood alcohol content (BAC) limits:
- After being awake for 18 hours, a driver has the same reaction times as someone with a 0.05% BAC.
- After being awake for 21 hours, a driver has the same reaction times as someone with a 0.08% BAC.
- After being awake for 24 hours, a driver has the same reaction times as someone with a 0.10% BAC.
Like distracted driving, individuals often feel they have the experience necessary to overcome drowsiness while behind the wheel. Drivers trust their skills and ability to stay focused in the face of increasing fatigue. Unfortunately, drowsy drivers can experience slowed reaction times, blurred perceptions and cognitive impairment. They often lose the ability to quickly recognize dangerous situations such as a stalled vehicle, slowed traffic or a blind intersection.
Drowsy driving can lead to severe motor vehicle collisions. Often, these collisions can be:
- Side impact: Drivers who fail to stop at an intersection and T-bone or broadside another vehicle.
- Rear-end: Drivers who fail to recognize stopped or slowed traffic and collide with the vehicles in front of them.
- Head-on: Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel and drift into oncoming lanes.
A driver who gets behind the wheel while drowsy can cause devastating motor vehicle accidents resulting in severe injuries such as brain trauma, spinal cord damage, paralysis or amputation. Depending on numerous factors, a motor vehicle collision can result in fatality.