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Boston Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Personal Injury > Drunk Driving: You Could be Doing Worse, if You’re Driving Drowsy

Drunk Driving: You Could be Doing Worse, if You’re Driving Drowsy


You would most likely—hopefully-never get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. But you may not be aware that you may be doing something just as dangerous, on a fairly routine basis: You may be getting behind the wheel tired, or drowsy. And before you say that being tired is nothing like being drunk, think again, because studies show that the effects that both have on your ability to drive, are strikingly similar.

How Dangerous is Drowsy Driving?

The Centers for Disease Control wanted to try to equate the effects of lack of sleep, on being drunk while driving. Its findings were surprising. If someone goes for 18 hours without sleep, and then drives, it’s akin to driving with a .05 BAL level, a level which can absolutely impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely.

But if that number is pushed to 24 hours without sleep, the results become even more surprising. After 24 hours without sleep, your driving performance is equal to someone whose BAL is .10 (which is more than the legal limit not just in Massachusetts, but in every state).

The Comparison

Many people say that as dangerous as driving drunk is, driving tired may be equally, if not more dangerous. When someone is tired—so tired that they doze off—their vehicle is being operated by nobody—not even someone with impaired senses. And unlike a drunk driver, who may, in some cases, at least be able to react at the last minute to try to avoid an accident, someone who is tired, or even asleep, cannot and does not.

Did You Microsleep?

Did you fall asleep at the wheel? Well, you may not even know if you did or not, because of what is known as microsleep.

Microsleep is short, seconds-long moments when your body can go into a sleep-like state. You may have experienced that sitting in a boring meeting, or trying to stay awake when watching TV. You jolt awake, and suddenly realize you were “out of it” for a few seconds.

But behind the wheel, that few seconds can mean a lot. In just under 5 seconds, going about 60-65 miles per hour, your car can go about 4 football fields worth of distance. That means that when your eyes were open, you couldn’t even see anything that could be in front of you by the time your eyes re-open just seconds later.

The federal government, in regulating truck drivers, already knows the dangers of drowsy driving, which is why federal law limits how long at one time drivers can be behind the wheel without a rest break. Many rideshare companies have instituted similar policies, forbidding drivers from being on the roads for more than 10-12 hours at one time.

Call the Boston personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of Joseph Linnehan, Jr. today at 617-275-4200 for help if you have been injured by a drowsy driver, or in any other kind of car accident.




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