Most people already know that it is dangerous to engage in drunk driving or distracted driving. What they may not realize is that there is a third “d” that is almost as dangerous, and it is drowsy driving. 

According to information provided by the National Safety Council, you get behind the wheel when you have gone a full 20 hours without sleep, the impact on your driving will be as severe as a blood alcohol concentration BAC of 0.08 percent, which is the standard baseline level for impairment. 

The more tired you are, the greater the impact your exhaustion will have on your driving. Fatigue affects both people in control of passenger vehicles and those driving commercial vehicles, although only commercial drivers are subject to laws limiting how long they can legally drive. 

How sleep deprivation affects your driving ability

When you feel tired, you obviously have a risk of falling asleep at the wheel, which could be very dangerous. Even if you only fall asleep for a few seconds, you can veer out of your lane or even travel off the road. Falling asleep isn’t the only risk associated with drowsy driving. 

You will also experience a significant increase in your reaction times to sudden changes in the flow of traffic and difficulty focusing. These cognitive effects of fatigue are very similar to the way that alcohol affects the brain, which is why the National Safety Council compares extreme states of exhaustion to chemical impairment. 

If you were in a crash with a driver who exhibited signs of exhaustion or fatigue in the aftermath of the collision, they may have chosen to get behind the wheel while too tired to safely drive, a decision which could result in liability for the damages they caused.