Every year, there are 100,000 motor vehicle accidents that are caused by drowsy drivers in the United States. That figure is courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it really puts other types of accidents or driving infractions -- such as drunk driving -- into focus.
Even though one study concluded that there is little-to-no difference between someone who is driving after being awake for 21 hours and someone who is driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08, one of these drivers probably wouldn't receive more than a talking-to by a police officer and a ticket, while one of these drivers would be hauled off in handcuffs and have his or her future threatened. You can probably guess which driver falls into each of these descriptions.
It's a problem with perception. We all think that people who drive drunk are bad people who deserve the punishment that they receive. But we also equate their offense with one of the worst (if not the worst) things a driver can do. However, drowsy driving is just as bad. Distracted driving can be just as bad. Reckless drivers who simply weren't properly taught or have repeatedly shown they can't handle the responsibility or privilege of driving are just as bad.
So the next time you think about drunk driving or a drunk driving accident, remember that there are all sorts of actions that drivers take while they are sober that are just as dangerous as someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08.
Source: USA Today, "Driving like this is as dangerous as driving drunk," Kristin Varela, Oct. 30, 2014