The dangers of falling asleep at the wheel are obvious. If drivers are asleep, they cannot operate or control their vehicles. As a result, they may drift off the road or into other lanes of traffic and may strike other vehicles or roadside objects. Many motorists in Connecticut, however, fail to recognize that drowsiness poses just as significant of a crash risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving occurs when people who are sleepy or fatigued operate a motor vehicle. This can result from not getting enough sleep or rest, untreated sleep disorders, shift work, taking certain medications or drinking alcohol, among other factors.

Drowsiness can cause a number of effects, beyond just yawning, blinking and drifting in traffic. Being overly tired or fatigued may affect drivers’ attentiveness and decision-making, as well as slow their reaction times. Consequently, they may not notice or be able to respond in time to hazards or other situations that may arise on the road. According to the National Safety Council, the risk of fatigued motorists getting into a crash is three times higher than drivers who have gotten adequate rest.

Fatigue and sleepiness are also dangerous for drivers because the signs are not easily identified, and it can be hard to tell the exact moment when sleep comes over the body. When drowsy, people may experience involuntary bursts of inattention known as micro-sleep. Drivers who are traveling at highway speeds when they experience micro-sleep, which typically lasts only four to five seconds, may drive the distance of a football field without being focused on the task of driving or their surroundings.