The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that sleepiness causes hundreds of thousands of injuries in car accidents; it's unfortunate that it doesn't get the attention it deserves. Here are four reasons sleepiness causes road crashes:
Lapses of Attention
This is one of the top dangers of driving while sleepy; you won't be paying as much attention as you would if you were not sleepy. There are few things as dangerous as driving without paying maximum attention to other road users or objects. You may not notice the potholes, road debris, corners, traffic lights, cyclists, pedestrians, dogs, people, or animals that may cause an accident. In fact, it's possible to completely nod off if you are sleepy behind the wheel, which is even riskier than not paying attention to the road.
Research has shown that as many as 42% of sleepy drivers get impatient behind the wheel, and impatience can easily lead to a car crash. For example, impatient drivers are more likely to change lanes without notice, run the red light, cut corners, and push ahead in traffic, all behaviors that can lead to accidents. In fact, a high-level of impatience can even lead to road rage, which can result in nasty accidents.
There is also evidence linking sleepiness with stress. Just like impatience, stress can also lead to road rage. If you are stressed up, you are likely to take offense with little road annoyances that you would otherwise ignore. For example, you won't like it when another driver cut in front of you; you may find yourself racing to squeeze your car into position before other drivers take "your" space.
Lastly, it's not a surprise that sleepiness also leads to speeding. For one, you will be in a rush to get to your destination and arrest; you may do this consciously or unconsciously. If you are sleepy in the morning, there are high chances that you woke up late, which means you will probably be driving late for your meeting, school or work.
Therefore, do your best to avoid driving while sleepy just as you avoid driving while intoxicated. This is good advice any day, but it is especially critical if you are planning a long road journey. If you do get into an accident, however, don't assume that it's your sleepiness that has caused it; don't admit liability. An accident lawyer can help you determine if anyone should pay for your injuries.
For more information, see companies like Salley Law Firm PA.