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That drowsy driver in the car next to you might as well be drunk

Getting a good night's sleep may seem like a pipe dream to many McAllen residents, including you. With the stresses of work and family life, sleep may feel more like a luxury than a necessity.

You probably would never consider falling asleep while driving, but you don't have to in order to increase the risk of having an accident. Fatigue alone can make it challenging to drive safely, and you never know how much sleep the driver in the car next to you got last night.

You don't really feel that tired

Even if you don't feel so tired that you can't safely drive, you could be if you notice the following:

  • You are yawning a lot.
  • You catch yourself daydreaming.
  • Your vehicle hits the rumble strip on the side of the road.
  • Your mind wanders easily.
  • You can't quite focus.
  • Your eyelids are heavy or droopy.
  • You find yourself blinking a lot.
  • You can't remember the last few miles you drove.
  • You missed your exit or traffic signs.
  • Your vehicle drifts into another lane.
  • You are following too closely behind the vehicle in front of you.
  • You notice difficulty keeping your head up.

Certain medications could make you drowsy as well. With allergy season coming up fast, you may want to make sure your medication won't make it difficult for you to drive.

Is it really fair to compare drowsy driving to drunk driving?

You may think this comparison is extreme, but sadly, it isn't. Research on the subject shows that driving without adequate sleep causes drivers to make the same mistakes as those who drink too much and drive. One study that compared the two discovered that a driver suffering from sleep deprivation reacted behind the wheel the same way that someone with a .05 blood alcohol concentration did. Surprised? You aren't alone.

Most people don't think that driving drowsy is a big deal, but hundreds of people die in crashes involving a fatigued driver every year. Unfortunately, it isn't easy to track the actual numbers since no test for this exists as it does for alcohol impairment. So, the next time you have trouble keeping your eyes open, you may want to think twice about driving.

How much sleep did the drivers around you get?

By this point, you may now wonder whether the drivers around you got enough sleep last night. You have good reason to since around 43 percent of all adult drivers have fallen asleep while driving if even for a few seconds. A lot can change on a roadway in those few seconds. Even if you do everything right, you may not have the chance to avoid a collision with a drowsy driver.

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