Drunk Or Drowsy Driving Is The Same? Intoxication And Lack Of Sleep Are Surprisingly Equally Dangerous On Road Claims AAA Study

Drunk Or Drowsy Driving Is The Same? Intoxication And Lack Of Sleep Are Equally Dangerous On Road, Claims AAA Study

Drunk driving has always been considered dangerous and deemed illegal. However, a new study indicates getting in the driver’s seat while feeling drowsy could be equally risky, and in some cases, riskier. Driving without a good night’s sleep could have the same effect of driving while intoxicated, claimed the study.

Driving while drowsy is as dangerous as being behind the wheel after having had one too many, indicates a new study. Getting proper sleep has long been considered vital for a productive day, and an important factor in maintaining good health. It appears the same principle applies to driving as well.

The December 2016 study, conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), suggests sleepy drivers are a threat to themselves and other vehicles. In fact, drowsy drivers nearly double their risk of getting in a car crash when they get behind the wheel. They surprisingly mimic the same effects brought on by the excessive consumption of alcohol.

According to the study, drivers who managed just five to six hours of sleep during the previous night are about twice as likely to get into an accident as compared to those who slept seven hours or more. The risk just keeps increasing for every hour of sleep that’s either deliberately skipped or lost. Drivers who slept only 4-5 hours are at quadruple the risk of being involved in a crash. Drivers who have slept for just four hours the night before are over 11 times more prone to crashing. In other words, in certain cases, drowsy driving is an even riskier proposition than driving drunk, pointed out an AAA spokesperson.

“If you sleep less than four hours in a given 24 period, you are as impaired as you would be if you are twice the legal limit of alcohol.”

Statistically speaking, a driver who hasn’t slept for more than five hours during the night before, exhibits similar signs to those who are driving under the influence. Legally speaking, a severely sleep deprived driver could be considered intoxicated, with levels around or slightly above the legal .08 blood alcohol limit, observed the report. If the driver compromises even one more hour of his sleep, then his risk of being involved in a crash is 3-4 times higher as compared to someone who is sober.

Drowsy driving has been a growing issue over the past several years, noted Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins, who added that it’s “definitely a problem.” A study conducted by the AAA in 2010 revealed that as many as 7 percent of all crashes and 21 percent of fatal crashes involve drowsy drivers, reported the Tampa Bay Times.

After the 2010 report, public awareness about drowsy driving started to rise, noted Brian Tefft, AAA senior research associate, who wrote the study.

“The federal statistics that have been published by the (U.S. Department of Transportation) has always shown drowsy driving is a factor in 2-3 percent of crashes, but we knew it was probably much higher. When we estimated that drowsiness was a factor in 7 percent of all crashes in our 2010 study, the community started to realize, and we knew this was an underestimated problem. It has been within the past 3-5 years that the public health community and the transportation research community have been waking up to the drowsy driving problem.”

There’s ample evidence and legislation to penalize drivers who indulge in texting, calling, and alcohol. Joy riding and impaired driving are known problems as well. Youngsters and adults are routinely taught and warned about these dangerous habits.

However, there’s virtually no strict law about drowsy driving, and those in existence are rarely enforced. Sleep deprivation or sleep debt is a rising problem among teenagers, old people, and average adults as well. Shockingly, even those who claim to function on less sleep have significantly higher risk of crashing.

[Featured Image by Vladimir Pcholkin/Getty Images]