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Drowsiness and the Older Driver


Drowsy driving can diminish a driver’s alertness, attention, reaction time, judgment and decision-making, which is sure to lead to a greater chance of an automobile crash. At its extreme, drowsy driving can even lead to the often fatal error of falling asleep at the wheel.

The purpose of this article is to provide you with:

  • broad description of just what drowsiness is and what some of the causes can be

  • provide you with a brief explanation of what drowsy driving is

  • show how drowsiness can affect a driver of any age

  • show how drowsiness can be especially detrimental to an older driver

The above points summarize the purpose of this article. The real objective of this article, however, is to provide valuable information that will increase overall awareness of the detrimental effect drowsy driving can have on drivers of any age, but particularly on our aging population. Hopefully, this article can keep at least one older driver from falling prey to the highway death trap known as drowsy driving.

What exactly is drowsy driving?

The Texas Transportation Institute succinctly defines drowsy driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle while being impaired by a lack of sleep".

Drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving that negatively affects a person’s ability to drive safely. Most people associate impaired driving with alcohol or drugs, but in this situation, drowsiness is the primary cause. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as distracted driving or even drunk or drugged driving. Studies show that driving after being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, the legal limit in all states.