Sudden swerving, drifting out of a lane and delayed reactions are surefire signs of a drunk driver, right? That’s not always the case. Drowsy driving symptoms are remarkably similar to drunk driving. A lack of sleep has significant effects on your body’s ability to drive just like alcohol.
The National Sleep Foundation says that driving after being awake for 18 hours is equivalent to a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05, more than half of the legal limit. Similarly, pulling an all-nighter and being awake for 24-straight hours has the same effect as a BAC of .10.
Fatigued driving causes difficult focusing on the road, missed signs and exits, and drifting from your lane. Each of these acts can have deadly consequences. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says drowsy drivers are involved in as many as 6,000 fatal accidents each year.
Is drowsy driving illegal?
Pennsylvania currently has no laws against driving drowsy but that could change. California and Utah have taken measures to raise awareness and educate drivers on the locations of designated pullover places. A handful of states have already criminalized driving drowsy. States such as New Jersey and Arkansas have classified fatigued driving as reckless driving and negligent homicide, respectively. It isn’t a stretch to say more states will enact laws against drowsy driving.
Always make sure that you get enough sleep to drive safely before getting behind the wheel. Be aware of medications and medical conditions that cause drowsiness. If you find yourself falling asleep during, find a safe and legal spot to pull over for a quick nap or grab a cup of coffee. Pennsylvania may not have laws against drowsy driving but it’s not worth gambling with the safety of yourself and others to drive without rest.