The reminder to wear your seatbelt while driving is easily recognized by Texas’ ‘click-it or ticket’ jingle played on the radio. This is similarly matched with the multiple campaign ads targeted against drunken driving. However, very few market against driving while tired, an issue that pertains especially to students.
For college students, late nights and fatigue are somewhat inevitable. Busy schedules can lead to study sessions late into the evening and early morning wake up classes. This can add up to a number of sleepless nights. It becomes easy to prioritize work over sleep at times, but doing so causes safety to also become less of a priority. Once drowsiness strikes, it is no longer safe to be behind the wheel.
While driving drowsy is not against the law, it is extremely dangerous. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between ages 18 to 29 are most likely to drive while drowsy in comparison to other age groups. Among those, men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy and are twice as likely to crash while in an impaired state.
There is no Breathalyzer or standard test used to catch those who drive while drowsy. However, many who drive drowsy exhibit some of the same signs as a drunken driver and get pulled over by a police officer in suspicion of intoxication rather than sleep deprivation. Additionally, if an accident occurs with someone who is a drowsy driver, the driver could end up with large fines or jail time. Maggie’s Law, named after the victim in a head-on collision with a fatigued driver, states that a sleep-deprived driver qualifies as a reckless driver, and can be convicted of vehicular homicide. The law defines sleep deprivation as a period of 24 hours without sleep.
Getting home from campus can be an issue at the end of the night, but much like when you plan to have a few drinks, it is smart to have a game plan for getting home. Having a friend who is willing to pick you up is one of the easiest and safest options. For those who live close enough to campus and are aware that they will be staying late into the night, walking is also an option. If those who choose to leave cars at home feel unsafe at the end of the night, there is a university shuttle available to take students from one end of campus to the other from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Driving is a dangerous even when students are well-rested and focused on the road. Adding any level of stress or uncertainty causes the downsides to outweigh the benefits of driving home. Driving drowsy is a real and present danger, and deserves to be regarded as a real threat.