“When you decide to get behind the wheel of a car, be aware that being sleepy is dangerous,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Although most Californians know how dangerous drinking and driving is, they may not fully realize that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous and potentially fatal as driving drunk.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cognitive impairment after approximately 18 hours awake is similar to that of someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 percent. After about 24 hours awake, impairment is equivalent to a BAC of 0.10 percent, higher than the legal limit in all states. In addition, lower levels of alcohol (below the legal limit) amplify the effects of inadequate sleep.
According to statistics from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, in 2012, the most recent year in which finalized figures are available, there were more than 3,900 collisions in California involving drowsy drivers. As a result of those collisions, 36 people died and more than 2,100 others were injured.
Below are some signs that should tell a driver to stop and rest:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless and irritable
If you experience any of these warning signs, pull over to rest or change drivers. Simply turning up the radio or opening the window are not effective ways to stay alert.