Today I want to nag at some of you; my kids say I am good at it so maybe I can do some good. What I want to nag about is driving while tired. You know what I mean, you spend till late Thursday night packing up and getting ready to go camping over the weekend. Then Friday you have a rough day at work and maybe you have to work a little over time. You finally get out of work and head home and jump in the Camper or Tow vehicle and head for the nice relaxing weekend of camping. Or you have been planning that winter trip down to Florida and you want to get far enough south to use your water without worrying about it freezing or just want to “Make some time”. Sounds wonderful and it can be but, and this is a very big but, how safe are you?
Have you done something like this and found yourself “Nodding Off” during the drive? If you have, you have driven while tired. What happens when you drive tired? Your reactions are slower, your attention wonders, and you have a tendency to concentrate on one thing at a time and often it isn’t driving. That is even if you don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
I also know that a lot of you think that you will just turn on the radio and drink a cup of coffee or mountain dew or open the window and you will be fine. And most of us get away with it.
I would hazard to say all of us at one time or another have driven tired and gotten away with it. Now why do I say “Gotten away with it”? Well, studies have been done that show driving while tired is similar to driving while under the influence. That is even if you don’t actually fall asleep at the wheel. In other words, that guy you are following that is weaving all over the road may not be drunk he could just be tired.
So what should you do if you find yourself in this condition? Well, the best thing is to take a nap. Either before you leave for the trip (remember you came home from work before the trip?). Or, if you are already on your way, you may have to PULL OVER, stop at a rest stop, a Wal-Mart or Cracker Barrel, somewhere, anywhere and take a nap. Usually 30 minutes to an hour will do wonders and let you drive for a few more hours. Or if you have another driver who is less tired, let them drive for a while. Your wife (or husband) may be able to drive better than you think and, if they are not tired, probably better and safer than you!
What you shouldn’t do is try to tough it out by drinking coffee or other forms of caffeine, opening the window or playing loud music. Those just are very short term patches for a much more serious problem.
Lastly one other thing I want you to think about is your cell phone. Some people tell me that they talk to someone on their cell phone to keep them awake. In my mind, this is like throwing gas on a fire you want to put out! You are already sleepy and having concentration problems and now you want to add a distraction. Again talking on a cell phone is like driving while impaired (ever watch Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel?). In this case, two wrongs don’t come anywhere near a right.
Well, enough nagging (as my grandmother says I nag like an old woman because I am one!) I don’t have her excuse. But, if one person who reads this will just pull over and sleep for a while or let someone else drive, it will have been worth it.
Your obedient servant,
Gary C. Smith, Jr.