Monday, March 17, 2008

A Drowsy Driving Rant

Last week we read a brief article in Woman's Day magazine about what to do when you have to drive and you're sleepy. The magazine suggested that readers eat peppermints, drink coffee, and turn up the music on the radio.

Articles like this make us crazy. This advice is just plain stupid. It doesn't matter how many peppermints you eat or how loud the music is. If you're too tired to drive, you shouldn't drive. Period. End of sentence. Even caffeine can only give you a jolt for a couple hours (and that's if you're not used to it).

Here are the facts. If you are too sleepy:
--Your reaction time is slow.
--Your vision is not as sharp.
--Your brain does not process information well.
--Your judgment is impaired.
--You are at a much higher risk of crashing your car.

In fact, you are in the same shape to drive as if you're drunk. Drowsy driving probably causes about a million accidents per year, though the exact number is unknown because it's hard to tell whether sleepiness caused an accident.

To learn more about drowsy driving, visit drowsydriving.org. Or, take this quiz about drowsy driving: http://www.aaafoundation.org/quizzes/index.cfm?button=drowsyquiz. To see the reality of drowsy driving, go to the Drowsy Driving Memorials site, at http://www.drowsydriving.org/site/c.lqLPIROCKtF/b.2964801/. Look at the photos of people who are gone because somebody thought it was okay to drive even though they were tired. Maybe those drivers had been munching on mints and listening to the radio too.

It's heartbreaking to sit at the funeral of someone who's been killed because a driver fell asleep at the wheel. This happened in our family, and we'll never forget the grief-stricken faces of our nephew's parents, the weeping teenagers at his funeral, or the sight of a 16-year-old wearing his basketball uniform, a basketball at his side ... in his casket.

5 comments:

Heffalump said...

We have friends whose son was killed after he fell asleep at the wheel. He was just newly home from his mission and it was a real tradgedy.
Pulling over and taking a nap is the best thing to do if you are tired at the wheel.

Lisa Ray Turner & Robert Turner said...

Amen, Heffalump! This is what people overlook - that to be in shape to drive, you should actually sleep. I've pulled over many times and taken a nap and it makes all the difference. Very sad about your friend whose son was killed. This happens far more than people know and it's really tragic.

Stephen said...

Nicely said.

Jerrie said...

I've done this to get home from a vacation in time for that Monday morning after. Knew it was stupid at the time. I think we live in a culture that doesn't give sleep enough respect.

Lisa Ray Turner & Robert Turner said...

Great point Jerrie. Very few people have respect for adequate sleep/sleep deprivation. It is a badge of honor to work an extra shift with few people asking if you are alright to drive home. Fortunately, times are slowly changing with "Megan's Law" in New Jersey now making it a criminal act if you drive after 36 hours (I think) of no sleep.