The consequences and severity of driving under the influence have not gone unknown. Since 1964 when the first drunk driving campaign aired, we as a society have been constantly reminded of the impacts that drinking and driving have. But what if someone told you that drowsy driving, or driving without adequate sleep, can have the same consequences as driving under the influence of alcohol?
According to a study done by the GHSA (Government Highway Safety Association), Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do, lack of sleep can have the same effects on drivers as alcohol does. Depending on the length of time that a person goes without sleep, the equivalent effects of BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) occur, and the sleep deprived driver can potential endanger himself/herself and others, making drowsy driving a serious problem.
Item 1. Drowsy Driving Compared to Drunk Driving
As shown in the image above, a driver that has gone 18 hours without sleep has the equivalent BAC level of .05% (the limit in most European countries) and a driver that hasn’t slept in 21 hours can suffer the same affects as someone with a BAC level of .08% (the legal limit in the U.S. and the UK except for Scotland). In a more extreme case, a driver that goes without sleep for 24 hours could experience the same affects as someone with a BAC level of .10% which is above the BAC limit in almost every country.
Item 2. Drowsy Driving Fatalities
Source: Traffic Safety Facts of the U.S. Department of Transportation
The chart above shows the amount of fatalities due to drowsy driving from 2011-2015 in the U.S., proving that drowsy driving is indeed a problem worth addressing.
At first glance, these figures may not seem too significant but, in reality, drowsy driving is more common than one may think. With our increasingly demanding lives and responsibilities, individuals worldwide are getting less and less sleep to accommodate busy schedules, which in turn is putting more people at risk for driving without sufficient sleep.