Most Ottawa drivers are undoubtedly aware of the dangers of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and in recent years more people have come to understand that distracted driving — particularly, texting while behind the wheel — can result in devastating crashes.
Still, not enough drivers seriously consider the risks of sleepy or fatigued driving, and researchers in Ontario have shown that younger drivers may be particularly susceptible to overestimating their ability to drive while drowsy.
Research has shown that drivers younger than 25 pose the greatest risk of causing crashes related to drowsiness, though sleepy drivers of any age can be dangerous behind the wheel.
To put the matter in perspective, consider these findings:
Younger drivers who haven’t slept for about 18.5 hours make mistakes on the road that are similar to mistakes made by a person with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05.
If a young driver hasn’t slept for 21 hours, then the driver is likely to make mistakes similar to those made by a person with a BAC of 0.08.
The noted errors include failure to stay on the road, erratic speed changes and erratic lane changes. Still, researchers found that younger drivers were less likely to think of drowsy driving as abnormal behaviour, though they saw impaired driving as unacceptable.
Drivers can reduce the risk of drowsy-driving crashes by getting enough rest and heeding the symptoms of sleepiness. At the first sign of drowsiness, drivers of any age should either pull over to a safe place and take a nap or let a well-rested driver take over.
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