In Louisiana, drunk drivers face severe repercussions for their actions if convicted of DUI crimes. But what about drowsy drivers? This form of distracted driving takes many lives a year, after all. But the law does not treat them with equal severity.
In spite of this, drowsy and intoxicated driving actually share many similarities. These similarities put all drivers on the road at risk of injury or worse.
Mental and physical impacts
The Sleep Foundation studies the similarities between drowsy and intoxicated driving. Though drowsy driving does not boast the same penalties for convictions, drowsy drivers share many experiences with intoxicated drivers.
First, they both experience delayed reaction time and trouble concentrating. They both struggle to detect impending risky situations and danger. They lose fine motor control. They may experience visual or auditory hallucinations in extreme cases.
Experts determine that sleep deprivation often feels like a form of intoxication, too. This slows cognitive processes and increases confusion, indecisiveness and irrationality. Many experience extreme emotional highs and lows which can contribute to agitation. Drowsy and drunk drivers both often report feeling a loss of self control.
Loss of consciousness
They may also both fall asleep at the wheel. At certain levels of intoxication, drowsiness besets the individual and causes them to doze off. With drowsy driving, it is self-explanatory. In addition to dozing at the wheel, drowsy drivers experience microsleep. These bursts of unconsciousness can last several seconds.
Despite this, the state criminalizes intoxicated driving but holds no specific laws against drowsy driving. As a result, drowsy drivers continue to create hazards on the road for everyone.