Certain dangerous driving habits are more socially acceptable than others. Pretty much everyone recognizes the dangers of drunk driving and will frown on people getting behind the wheel after overindulging.
Surprisingly, although the effects on driving are very similar to those of alcohol, fewer people worry about exhausted or fatigued people driving on public roads. They may even laugh when people brag about how long they go without sleep or how tired they feel.
According to information provided by the National Safety Council, exhaustion often affects the human brain much in the way that alcohol does. The longer someone goes without sleep, the more obvious the effects of exhaustion will be on their driving abilities.
What happens when people drive while exhausted?
The human brain needs rest to operate properly. When a person drives, their brain is under intense stress, as it must analyze massive amounts of information and prioritize actual safety risks versus minor issues. A driver’s brain has to constantly sort information and help a driver remained focused so that they properly respond to changing traffic conditions.
The longer someone goes without sleep, the harder it may be for them to pay attention and make good decisions at the wheel. In fact, experts claim that going 20 hours without sleep will affect your driving as much as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, which is the legal cut-off for intoxication.
What happens if you’re in a wreck with a tired driver?
While it can be harder to conclusively test someone for fatigue, everything from cell phone records to traffic cameras could help corroborate your claim that a fatigued driver is responsible for your recent severe car crash. Understanding that exhaustion is a risk factor can help you hold an irresponsible driver accountable.