Drivers who choose to operate their vehicles while sleep deprived or under the influence of alcohol create hazardous conditions on roads throughout Oklahoma and the nation. A recent study from “down under” reveals the combination of the two types of impairments can be even more dangerous and deadly.

Researchers at the Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience at Monash University in Australia recently tested 16 healthy men between 18 and 27 years old. Divided into four parts, participants were separately exposed to:

  • No intervention
  • Sleep deprivation and its effects
  • Alcohol consumption and its effects
  • Combined sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption and their effects

They asked the participants to rate their level of drowsiness. From there, researchers used eye-movement measurements to gauge their focus and attention. They also examined response speed by determining the speed they could push a button after seeing a flashing image.

Their findings revealed the combination of moderate alcohol consumption within the legal limit while restricting sleep resulted in significantly higher levels of drowsiness and more attention deficits. More alarming were the combined effects lasting two to three hours.

In a real-life scenario, impaired drivers have significant time on the road to cause serious and potentially fatal motor vehicle accidents.

Prior studies have already revealed that alcohol impairs critical thinking skills and motor coordination. Decision-making is also impacted, as people are more likely to take more risks while drunk than they would while sober. And, on its own, sleep deprivation distracts a driver and causes delayed reaction times.

Mixing the two is a recipe for disaster.