Are They Sleepy or Drunk?


| 3 Comments

Most of us have driven past a wreck and couldn't help but stare. The most tragic ones you hear about in the media are of those caused by drunk drivers. Many campaigns have been implied to stop drunk driving, but other dangers of the road may include texting and driving, distracted driving, bad weather conditions and also driving when you are sleepy.

I drive quite a bit whether it is to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. These are 100+ mile trips that can seem like a life time. Most of the time I make the drive to fly out of town in search of a cheap flight, but I find myself constantly stopping at gas stations along the way to sleep. I already have a hard time staying awake behind the wheel and driving after a flight doesn't help my cause. I have also been guilty of driving after a glass of wine. I am not proud to say that, but I can admit that it has been such a nerve racking ride. However, I have felt even more tense and worried when I have driven sleepy.

I'm not condoning such action as it is very dangerous, but here are my opinions on the two situations. When I drove after consuming wine, I felt fine to drive as most people may claim. I was happy and awake. When I drive sleepy, on the contrary, I am fearful because I can't stop myself from that 2 second blackout when my eyes shut and before you know it I are swerving back into my lane. It is one of the scariest feelings because you have no idea what just happened while you were in snooze town.  

Both driving drunk and driving sleepy impair your senses. Your reaction time lowers, you aren't fully there and can lead to fatal accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses". Drunk driving was estimated at "32,367 deaths in traffic crashes in 2011."

So which one is worse? I think both are equally bad despite the difference in numbers.

A study by the Journal of Sleep Research, better detailed here, found that "after about 2 h of continuous nocturnal highway driving, driving impairment is comparable to that observed for a BAC of 0.05% and 0.08% after 3 h of driving. Given that these are the most common legal limits for driving for alcohol, a maximum continuous nocturnal driving duration of 2 h should be recommended."

Although the numbers of fatalities and accidents don't compare, I think that both driving behaviors are dangerous. Because they both impair your senses, you lose all control on the road. Driving sleepy is not illegal but leads to the same dangers driving drunk does, so should this be punishable too? How would authorities measure your level of sleepiness? Is that even possible?

A lot of information is constantly fed to us about how terrible drunk driving is. For the most part I would like to think that the majority of us know that driving drunk accounts for most of fatal accidents, but what about driving tired? I think that data shows clear evidence of the dangers of driving tired, but will it ever be enough to change our laws? Maybe it should be a moral law to not put others at risk when you are tired.

 sleepy.pngPhoto:http://jnewbio.edublogs.org/files/2013/03/800px-Effects_of_sleep_deprivation-2066wh9.png

3 Comments

Sleeping is probably one of the most important biological need of the body. Just like you can't survive without sufficient amounts of water and food, you cannot survive without sleep. It is so important for people to realize that the detriments of sleep loss can be as harmful to the body as drug and alcohol abuse. Driving without sufficient sleep is just as dangerous as driving drunk and I think people tend to forget about that because it is not illegal.

It is really sad when people decide to put themselves behind the wheel when they are under the influence or sleep deprived. It puts themselves and others at risk. People often do not realize the large array of symptoms that sleep deprivation has on the body and mind. This is a great website if you want to know more about fatigue and driving.
Driving Fatigued

I find this really interesting because you can legally charge someone for driving drunk but how could you legally charge someone for driving when they're too tired. Frankly when I'm feeling really tired and I have to drive I make sure I drink coffee first and I take local roads so I pay attention more. Drunk driving should never happen but sleepy driving has to be decided by the driver. Scary thought that someone could fall asleep behind a the wheel. Here's some tips to help you decide that you're too sleepy to drive http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/drowsy-driving

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