While making phone calls or texting while driving often grab the headlines as major forms of distracted driving, it is important that Illinois drivers recognize the other ways that distracted driving can manifest. Recently, researchers and scientists have studied the ways that sleep deprivation can negatively impact the way a driver operates a vehicle and responds to sudden changes in the environment.

According to a 2018 academic study published in the scientific journal ‘Sleep,’ the chance of being in a motor vehicle accident increases corresponding to how few hours a person sleeps. For example, drivers who receive less than seven hours of sleep in a 24 hour period have a greater chance of being in a motor vehicle accident than those who receive more than seven hours of sleep; drivers who receive less than four hours of sleep are found to be at the greatest risk on the roads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorizes distracted driving into three categories:

  1. Manual, when a driver removes his or her hands from the steering wheel
  2. Visual, when the driver looks away from the road
  3. Cognitive, when the driver is mentally distracted from the act of driving

Sleep deprivation falls into the category of cognitive distracted driving, because the driver is too tired to mentally make decisions like a person who has had an appropriate amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation can also become visual distracted driving, if a driver closes his or her eyes for long periods of time. It is recommended for the safety of everyone on the road that sleep-deprived drivers park in a safe area to catch up on sleep before continuing on their journeys.