Driving Drowsy

Recently while driving I felt completely exhausted, I had been driving up and down the day before and now I was going out of town. We went to the beach and you know how sea water drains you! When I felt the tiredness overcome me like a wave I wondered:

“Do other people experience this?”

“How do I avoid this?”

I remember reading that when we are tired we experience micro sleep and that happens a lot when we are driving- do you ever remember being at x and then all of a sudden you’re at y? Yup, that can be because of micro sleeping. It’s really interesting and I encourage you to read more here.

 

I love talking about sleep, it’s extremely important and lack of it can really put you at risk! But what’s the big deal about driving drowsy? Hours of lack of sleep can make you behave as though there is a substantial amount of alcohol in your system. After 18 hours of no sleep, it is as if you have a blood alcohol level of 0.05… the Jamaican level for drunk is 0.08. So lack of sleep affects your reaction time, it affects your competency and ability to drive- not to mention there’s the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. According to the article ‘How to tell if you’re too tired to drive- and what to do if you are’ by Brianna Steinhilber (read here) our eyes close at a different rate when we are sleepy, they can also take longer to open leaving us with huge gaps.

They also list signs that you might be too tired to drive:

  • Yawning continuously
  • Your eyes are tired and hurt
  • Memory lapse (remember what I spoke about before)
  • Lane deviation- so you’re unable to stay in your lane
  • Unsafe driving

 

So we know about the dangers of driving tired, we know how to identify when we’re too tired so how do we ensure that we are as safe as possible when we’re tired. These are some tactics I have use myself.

 

  1. Take a nap. If you have a friend close by or somewhere you feel comfortable- just take a quick nap for about 20 minutes.
  2. Don’t drive. Either have someone else drive or stay the night somewhere.
  3. Keep your mind active- either put on a mini concert in your car or play some games. Just keep your mind going.
  4. Don’t drive in silence. I find when I drive in silence it’s so easy to dose off.
  5. Call someone so that they’re talking to you on speaker the whole time you’re driving. I do this not only when I’m tired but also when I feel afraid to drive.
  6. Don’t speed. Take your time when you’re driving

 

What’s even better than coping with driving drowsy is to completely avoid it. Here’s how:

  1. Sleep well before long trips. Check out my two blog posts if you want to know how. Click here and here.
  2. Don’t drive for more than 8 – 10 hours
  3. Have two drivers on the trip instead of one
  4. Don’t drink and drive.
  5. Avoid driving during the hours you usually would be sleeping.

 

Driving drowsy is something a lot of us do, with all the road fatalities and accidents here in Jamaica we should do the best we can to protect ourselves out there on the roads. Drive safe and awake during the holidays!

 

Samantha C. Johnson

Sources (give them a read!) : Microsleep by Tuck, How to tell if you’re too tired to drive- and what to do if you are by Brianna Steinhilber, Avoiding driver fatigue by Transport Accident Commission

Featured image from Carbuzz.

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