William Long Whitesell, L.L.C.

Drowsy or drunk: Both are bad, but is one worse than the other?

Seeing a vehicle in front of you swerve off of the road or into oncoming traffic can be a frightening occurrence because you know that if certain conditions were present, that driver could hit another vehicle and cause a serious or even fatal accident. But while most people assume that when this happens, the driver is intoxicated, it's equally as likely that they are fatigued and unfit to drive.

Whether you realize it or not, fatigued driving is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. According to a National Sleep Foundation fact sheet, going without sleep for 18 hours is just as bad as having a blood-alcohol concentration of .05. If you're awake for more than 24 hours, you will see that comparison jump to a staggering .10 BAC, which is just above the legal limit. 

Even though you hear about drunk driving more than you do fatigued driving cases, you should know that this is a major issue in the United States. According to a 2005 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adult drivers admitted to driving while fatigued. That equates to approximately 168 million people. An astounding 37 percent even admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.

Recent numbers pointed out in an August 2016 Forbes article bode no better putting the estimated number of drowsy drivers at 83.6 million per day in the U.S.

Whether you're fatigued or intoxicated, your ability to make split second or rational decisions in a timely manner is impaired enough to make you a risk to the other drivers around you. So while one may not be more dangerous than the other, both do present a danger to those on the road.

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