Why is sleep-deprived driving so dangerous?

It might seem like it could never happen to you, but if you had a bad night's rest – or for some reason you couldn't get enough sleep – you too could fall asleep behind the wheel. This is why every driver must pay close attention to how rested and alert he or she feels before driving a motor vehicle. Deciding to drive a car while fatigued is not only irresponsible, but it could also leave the at-fault driver financially liable for the injuries, deaths and property damages he or she causes.

Why is sleep-deprived, drowsy, fatigued and sleepy driving so dangerous? Aside from the obvious fact that no one can drive while he or she is unconscious because of sleep, even if you don't literally fall asleep behind the wheel, fatigued and sleepy driving will make you more accident-prone for the following reasons:

  • When you're sleep deprived or fatigued, you won't be as attentive to the traffic around you because you'll be more prone to daydreaming and being distracted
  • Being sleepy or fatigued slows down your reaction times in a way that's not so different from being drunk or intoxicated
  • Sleepy and fatigued driving also affects the mental faculties of motorists, so they won't be able to make clear and wise choices when trying to avoid a collision

Following any kind of fatal or injurious auto collision, victims – and family members of those who die – may want to look into the exact cause of the crash and examine their legal rights and options for holding the at-fault driver accountable. When doing so, victims and family members should remember to consider that sleepy driving – in addition to other common car accident causes -- may be the reason for the accident.

Source: NPR, "Drivers Beware: Crash Rate Spikes With Every Hour Of Lost Sleep," Allison Aubrey, accessed April 20, 2018

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