Drowsy Driving Has Potentially Fatal Consequences

Do you get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night? If you're like most of us you probably don't, but if you get behind the wheel after being deprived of sleep you're a danger to not only yourself, but to other drivers as well.

Getting behind the wheel with less than six hours of sleep a night or being up for hours on end, the effects on reaction and motor skills equate to driving under the influence of alcohol and it happens more often than you may think.

While it's debatable on why we need sleep, sleep experts do know that it's as important as food or water.

"It's a temporary lack of sensory feedback to the brain," Dr. David Patz said.

But a lack of sleep can do more than just make you tired, it can make you dangerous especially behind the wheel.

"There's probably a huge number of motor vehicle accidents from drowsy driving," Patz said.

Here in Mesa County alone, about 1-100 crashes the Colorado State Patrol handles is the result of drowsy driving.

In May, an energy field worker drove into a canal after working for 36 straight hours and in June, a Fruita woman fell asleep, veered into the median rolling her vehicle. In both instances the drivers were lucky.

"In the last six weeks, we've had two crashes resulting in death and we believe the drivers were fatigued," Capt. Ed Clark with the CSP said.

A recent study found those who'd been awake for more than 18 hours had the reaction times and motor skills of someone who was legally drunk and while our hectic sleep deprived lives will continue experts say think twice before you get behind the wheel.

"It's against the law, it's called careless driving," Clark said.