Have you ever found yourself driving when you’re so tired that you feel like you’re about to pass out? You try to fight it, and you succeed for a while. But you still feel exhausted.
Then, suddenly, your eyes snap open. Adrenaline surges through your body. You fell asleep behind the wheel. The car is still in the lane and driving at 60 mph, but you’re terrified.
This phenomenon is known as microsleep. It has been described as:
In some cases, you may have only fallen asleep for a split second. In others, drivers sleep for as long as 10 seconds in a row.
Experts note that the risks of microsleep appear greatest when you are actively trying to stay awake. You’re fighting your own exhaustion. You can only do it for so long.
This can happen anywhere: in class, at work, on the bus, etc. But it is usually the most dangerous when it happens in the car. When you think about “falling asleep behind the wheel,” that doesn’t mean you’re out for a long time. Even just two seconds could be enough to cause your car to drive off of the road, rear-end another vehicle at a stop sign or drift into the oncoming lanes.
It’s important never to drive when you’re so tired that you could fall asleep, even for a split second, while in control of the car. Naturally, you also need to understand the risks that you face from other drowsy drivers. If you get injured in an accident, you may need to seek financial compensation for your costs.