Of the many ways in which one can lose control of a moving vehicle, none can be more dangerous and deadly than falling asleep while driving. In fact, 87% of accidents attributed to drowsy driving or falling asleep result in the loss of human life. As alarming as this statistic seems, it is not at all surprising since a driver who is sleeping loses full control of the vehicle with no opportunity to avert disaster. Drowsy driving puts not only the driver’s life at risk, but the safety of passengers, other drivers and pedestrians all hang in the balance. Vehicles being operated while the driver is drowsy or asleep continue to take lives worldwide but this problem is rarely addressed. Keeping in mind that the preservation of human life is always the highest priority on the roads, we must guard ourselves and others from any form of danger, which includes unleashing a lethal weapon on civilians in the form of a moving vehicle lacking a conscious driver.
Acknowledging your drowsiness
The deployment of such a deadly weapon on the community begins when we realize that our body’s desire to sleep begins to set in. Drowsiness can be a result of various different factors, including lack of sleep, eating a big meal or general fatigue. However, this initial warning is generally unacknowledged in seasoned yet complacent drivers who are accustomed to driving while slightly drowsy. Habitually, ignoring drowsiness is a major mistake that can potentially be life-threatening.
Fighting to stay awake while driving can be deadly
Drowsiness can cause a driver to completely fall asleep in the following manner and it is mostly catalyzed by self-deception. Oftentimes, drivers want to complete their journey on the road uninterrupted due to a variety of reasons and they make it a goal to take the least amount of “pit stops” along the way. One of the most dangerous thoughts that creep up in the mind of a drowsy driver is the belief that they can keep themselves awake, and in doing so avoid wasting valuable time and gas. Various actions may be taken to aid in their quest to fight drowsiness such as drinking a caffeinated beverage, opening windows, raising the volume on the radio or singing out loud. For a drowsy driver, these techniques can only work for a transient period of time, if they work at all. Another way in which a drowsy driver may self-deceive him or herself into a dangerous situation is by believing that the destination is just a short distance away and the phrase ‘I can make it’ continually runs through their mind. This type of repetitive thinking is conducive to falling asleep, as the mind transitions unknowingly from a conscious state to a state of unconsciousness or dreaming while the driver is still operating the vehicle. Many times, the driver falls into this state for mere seconds and quickly jolts back to reality, only to fall back asleep in a short amount of time. This cycle of microsleeping, as it they are called, is common for drivers on the long haul and can provide just enough time for an accident to occur. At the very worst, the driver may fall asleep for an extended period of time, such that the driver loses all control of the vehicle with dire results.
Stop and obtain rest before getting back on the road
There are many “how-to” articles that address how to make oneself stay awake while driving. However, the single best option for a driver who is even the slightest bit tired is to pull off of the road to a safe area, stop the vehicle and take a well-needed nap. There are other things that the driver can do while they are stopped, like walking around and breathing in fresh air outside, that may help to lessen the drowsiness as well. Other techniques to stay awake, which are done while the vehicle is in motion, should only be performed as an alternative in situations where stopping is not a viable option, for whatever reason.
Drowsy driving is a high-risk activity that has the potential to kill. Be honest with yourself in recognizing and acknowledging when you start to become drowsy while driving and do not try to fight the drowsiness to stay on the road. Rather, drive to a safe location where you may be able to stop the vehicle for an extended period of time and take a nap. This can be the difference for you and others between life and death.