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Driving Tired is as Dangerous as Driving Impaired
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The Dangers of driving when you are tired are real and serious. Most of us have been there. Whether it’s a mid afternoon drive in the warm sun that is lolling us to sleep, or a late night drive in the dark with the heater blasting in the winter, or simply a long drive when fatigue becomes a serious issue.

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators cites that 21% of fatal car crashes involve people driving while drowsy. This results in about 400 deaths a year in Canada, and 2100 serious injuries.  People are sleepy or falling asleep behind the wheel regularly. It appears that drivers under 25 are at a greater risk for crashing while sleepy or falling asleep, likely because they are sleep deprived in general and they lack the driving experience to appreciate how serious a problem this is.

Queen’s University research in Kinston has shown that young drivers who’ve been awake for >18 hours make driving errors that are similar to those made by someone with a 0.05% BAC. The longer they are awake the more serious the driving mistakes become. Once someone has been awake for 21 hours they make errors like erratic speed and sudden lane changes. Their reactions times slow and they have a hard time keeping the car on the road. Their driving becomes the same as someone with a 0.08% BAC (Legally impaired).

The Canadian Safety Council reports that drowsiness is an impairment and needs to be taken seriously.  Many factors can play into fatigue when you are driving. These include whether you slept well the night before, driving for long periods of time, and driving alone. You should always be vigilant for the signs of fatigue either in yourself or in the driver of a car you are in. If you notice that you are tired pull over and change drivers if you can. If you can’t then take a real break from driving. Get out of the car, go for a walk, get a bite to eat and a drink. If you are alone park the car at a rest area and have a nap. You’ll awake refreshed and ready to drive.

Signs of fatigue:

  • Loss of concentration
  • Sleepiness, nodding head, closing of eyes
  • Sore eyes/rited eyes
  • Yawning
  • Not remembering where you have just driven
  • Drifting out of the lane, or off the road, hitting the rumble strip on the highway

What to do:

  • Avoid driving when you know you are tired
  • If you are on a long road trip make sure you are stopping at least every two- three hours for a long break with some exercise involved
  • If you are drowsy find a safe place to stop and take a nap or change drivers
  • Keep yourself alert. Listen to an audio book or a pod cast series that keeps you engaged
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 30, 2018 - 09:54:00 AM EST
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