A significant amount of your brain’s processing power and energy goes toward the analysis of visual stimuli. When you drive, there is more demand on your brain than almost any other time. You have to process a massive amount of rapidly changing visual information to keep yourself and your passengers safe.
Unfortunately, people sometimes make decisions before driving that make them less safe at the wheel. For example, some people get behind the wheel after having a few beers. Everyone knows that it isn’t safe to drink and drive, but a small number of people do it anyway.
More people than that get behind the wheel late at night when they feel incredibly exhausted. What they may not know is that their driving may be just as impaired by their fatigue as a couple of drinks might affect another motorist.
How does fatigue affect your driving?
According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exhaustion affects driving skill in many of the same ways that alcohol does. It increases reaction time, affects decision-making ability and increases someone’s risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
The longer someone goes without sleep, the worse their driving will become. The CDC estimates that a driver’s skill is reduced to the same level as legal intoxication after somewhere between 18 and 24 hours without sleep. Realizing that drowsy driving is dangerous can help you make better decisions and hold other people accountable for their unsafe driving habits.
If a drowsy driver caused a crash with you, pointing out their fatigue symptoms to the police officer responding to the crash could help you in the future. Being able to prove false makes it easier for people to seek compensation after a wreck.