Never Get Behind the Wheel and Drive While Drowsy or Drunk

When you get behind the wheel of your car, you should always do your best to be as focused on the road and those around you. If you're either drowsy or drunk and try driving, you are putting yourself and other drivers in danger. Learn the reasons why you shouldn't be in either state while driving and which is worse.

What Are the Differences Between Drowsy and Drunk Driving?

While the effects of drowsy and drunk driving may be similar, they both have different root causes.

What Is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is when you drive your vehicle while sleepy or tired. When you drive when you aren't well rested, you:

  • Lose your ability to focus

  • React slower

  • Make bad decisions

  • Might just fall asleep behind the wheel

Drowsy driving affects those who get less than seven hours of sleep a night, shift workers, and those with untreated sleep disorders the most. Drowsy driving is most likely to occur when driving at night.

Unfortunately, drowsy driving has similar effects as driving drunk. Those who are awake for 18 hours or more have the same reaction time as those with a blood alcohol level of 0.05%. Drivers awake for over 20 hours or more are similar to a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, and those awake for 24 hours are equal to a level of 0.10%. For reference, the legal driving limit is 0.08% in most states. 

What Are Some Examples of Drowsy Driving?

When you start to show any of the following warning signs, there's a good chance that you're driving while drowsy:

  • Increasing the amount you blink or yawn

  • Drifting in and out of your lane or hitting rumble strips

  • Missing the exit you needed to take

  • Forgetting the last few miles of your drive

What Is Drunk Driving?

Drunk driving is when you consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel of any type of vehicle. Just like drowsy driving, your driving skills and reaction times become impaired after consuming alcohol. But unlike drowsy driving, drunk driving is illegal in every state once you pass a blood alcohol level of 0.08%.

Not only is it illegal, but getting a DUI is expensive too. One could cost you up to $10,000 and the loss of your license.

What Are Some Examples of Drunk Driving?

While drowsy driving typically slows down your movements, drunk driving can push them in either direction. The more you drink, the worse the effects become. Here's how alcohol affects you as you blood alcohol levels rise:

  • At 0.02%, your vision blurs, making it harder to track other vehicles or objects.

  • At 0.05%, your small-muscle control decreases, reducing your coordination and steering ability.

  • At 0.08%, your speech, vision, and hearing become poor, impairing your speed control and information processing skills.

  • At 0.10%, your control and reaction time greatly deteriorate, affecting your ability to stay in your lane and brake in time.

  • At 0.15%, your muscle control is greatly diminished, giving you little to no ability to control your vehicle. 

Is Drowsy or Drunk Driving More Deadly?

While neither is smart to ever think about doing, one is more deadly than the other. In 2021, 684 people died from drowsy driving-related crashes compared to 13,384 drunk driving deaths. Drunk driving claims nearly 20 times the amount of lives as drowsy driving, which is a lot of lives lost from preventable behaviors. 

How to Avoid Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving may be harder to fix depending on your lifestyle and schedule, but try these tips to avoid drowsy driving:

  • Get plenty of rest — Sleep experts recommend at least seven or eight hours of sleep a night.

  • Avoid driving overnight — Unless your job requires it, stay off of the road during times when you're usually asleep.

  • Check your medications — Verify that your medications do not have drowsiness as a side effect.

How to Avoid Drunk Driving

The easiest way to avoid drunk driving is by just not drinking and then getting behind the wheel. But this is easier said than done for some drivers who have an addiction. Avoid putting yourself in a bad situation by following these rules:

  • Assign a designated driver — If you're going out with others, rotate the responsibility of being a DD.

  • Get a ride home — If you drive to a bar and end up drinking, call a family member, friend, ride share, or taxi to get you home safely.

  • Protect your friends — If you see your friends or family trying to drive drunk, take their keys and save their lives.

Don't Drive While Drowsy or Drunk to Avoid Accidents

You should know by now that driving while drowsy or drunk can lead to accidents and even fatalities. Be responsible and never drive while drowsy and especially when drinking. Now that you know why these situations are dangerous, learn other rules of the road by taking a driver's ed course at Our fully online course will prepare you to drive no matter your learning style.

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