Drowsy Drivers: The Unspoken Road Danger
Drunk driving has claimed many innocent lives, and advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are committed to "increasing public awareness and creating social change in the attitude and behavior toward drunk driving." While a lot of progress has been made in this landscape, there is another major cause of car accidents that goes widely unmentioned.
One out of every six crashes is a result of a fatigue-impaired driver, and about forty-one percent of drivers admit they have fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point. This adds up to a frightening 56,000 sleep-related road accidents each year, which results in more than 40,000 injuries and about 550 deaths. Because of its high prevalence, many researchers have studied fatigue-related accidents and found that sleep deprivation has effects similar to that of having a few cocktails: decreased awareness, slow reaction time and impaired judgment. One study recorded people who hadn't slept for twenty hours to be cognitively on par with someone who has a blood-alcohol level of .05 percent.