blog home Drunk Driving Accident What’s Worse: Driving Drowsy or Driving Drunk?

By Renee Nordstrand on February 12, 2019

driver with one hand on the steering wheel

We have all seen “Don’t Drink and Drive” messaging throughout our lives. However, you probably haven’t seen commercials or had police officers come to your school to warn you about the dangers of driving while sleepy.

Research has shown that driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. Before people get behind the wheel in Santa Barbara, they should be well-rested and sober, or they risk causing serious car accidents with catastrophic injuries.

The Dangers of Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol in California is defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%, though the limit is lower for commercial drivers and drivers under the age of 21. Having alcohol in your system inhibits your reaction time and your ability to process information. This is why driving under the influence is so dangerous: it actively makes you a worse driver. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 more than 10,000 people in the U.S. died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

For now, there is no clear chemical test to determine when a person is too tired to safely drive, and there’s no hard rule on how much sleep a person can miss before he or she becomes an unsafe driver—it varies depending on the person. What is known is someone who has been awake for 24 hours is basically operating at the same level as someone with a BAC of 0.10%—higher than the legal limit for alcohol impairment. A sleepy driver has slowed reaction times, a poor ability to process information, and impaired memory—just like a drunk driver. They can be more easily distracted while driving as well.

Which Is More Dangerous?

Ultimately, both forms of impairment are incredibly unsafe; not only to the driver, but to everyone else on the road. While there is a social stigma against drunk driving, one in four drivers have admitted to driving while drowsy within the past month in recent polls. So if there is a greater danger on the road, it’s the fact that sleepy drivers do not realize just how dangerous they are behind the wheel.

Don’t drive drunk, and don’t drive drowsy; if you catch your eyes drooping, pull over to get some rest or let someone else drive.

If you or a loved one was struck by a driver who might have been under the influence of alcohol or fatigued, call a Santa Barbara DUI accident lawyer at NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022. We offer a free consultation to examine your case. We will investigate the true cause of the crash, as well as who is responsible for your compensation.