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Sleep Deprivation and Driving Skills


Operating a vehicle without enough sleep is a dangerous task to undertake. Sleep deprivation, or lack of sleep, interferes with the body's ability to function properly on a number of levels, including metabolism, immune function, intelligence, decision making and cognitive skills. The fundamental skills needed for safe driving are especially affected, making driving while sleep deprived incredibly dangerous and costly to both the driver and other drivers on the road. Whether traveling on city streets in rush hour or cruising on the highways between states, it is imperative that patience and skill be used with other drivers that occupy the same roads. The ability to control the car and maintain awareness of other drivers and their intentions is also needed.  It is important to remain vigilant at all times while in the driver's seat. Sleep deprivation prevents the use of these basic safe driving skills. Therefore, getting enough sleep before getting behind the wheel of a car is extremely important.

Lack of sleep, even only one night's, is responsible for irritability and clumsiness.  These symptoms can make a person either slow down because they get tired quickly or speed up due to increased adrenaline,  neither which is healthy or safe. Chronic sleep deprivation is sure to be the cause of mistakes on simple and familiar tasks and problems concentrating. It greatly reduces the ability to maintain attention for long periods of time and plays a part on negative effects of the immune system and other cognitive functions.

A sleep deprived individual is less likely to be patient while driving and more likely to experience road rage. The decrease in motor skills and sluggishness can lead to mistakes when changing lanes and gaging what other drivers' intentions may be. It can limit the ability to focus on the road, especially if traveling long distances. For example, a driver may forget to check his blind spot before getting into a different lane or may neglect to check his rear view mirror to identify cars that may be trying to pass. This can lead to fatal traffic accidents and expensive moving violations.

Operating a motor vehicle while sleep deprived is not in the best interest of any driver on the road. It is irresponsible and dangerous.  It can cost lives. The consequences of the inability to maintain attention and possible road rage can be deadly and expensive. However, these negative effects can be prevented.  It is best to drive only after getting an optimal amount of sleep.