Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation notes that driving after being awake for 24 hours is roughly equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1%. For reference, the legal BAC limit is 0.08%.

Drowsy driving is a type of distracted driving. That is, if a motorist does not have sufficient rest, he or she may lose mental focus. While anyone can become a fatigued driver, three factors increase a motorist’s risk of drowsy driving.

Driver age

A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 18-20-year-old drivers had five times more fatigue-related crashes than drivers of other ages. Inexperience, a tendency to take risks and irregular sleep patterns likely account for the discrepancy.

Time of day

Drowsy driving is common during nighttime and early morning hours, as activity during these times runs counter to the normal circadian rhythms of most drivers. Nevertheless, most fatigue-related car accidents occur during the day when more cars are on the road. Nighttime accidents, however, are often catastrophic, as drivers tend to be moving at higher speeds on sparsely populated roadways.

Work schedules

Individuals who work traditional hours usually have a decreased risk of fatigued driving. By contrast, those who work more than one job, have a greater chance of sustaining a serious injury in a fatigue-related collision. The same is true for individuals who work graveyard or flex shifts.

While most employees simply cannot change their work schedules, it is possible to avoid drowsy driving. Young motorists and those who drive after dark should pay special attention to the symptoms of drowsiness, pulling over to rest when necessary.