Tag Archives: driving safety

Think you’re not dangerously drowsy during a long drive? Bet you are

A sign on the Bruce Highway south of Mackay, Australia. (AFP/Getty)

When in doubt, take a nap. In fact, take a nap even if you’re not in doubt.

Pull off the road and stop the car, sip a coffee and close your eyes.

That’s some of the advice offered based on a study presented by the American Automobile Association, which found that drowsiness — a condition it says is too often ignored by drivers — plays a large and often underestimated role in traffic crashes, injuries, and deaths.

For long-haul drivers, and indeed any driver susceptible to nodding off on even short routes, the study’s findings are provocative. Becoming less alert behind the wheel can be deadly: Crashes caused by drowsy driving tend to be severe because the driver may not attempt to brake or swerve to avoid a collision.

“Being drowsy while driving is a dangerous form of impairment, and it does not resolve or improve with continued driving,” said Dr. David Yang, president and executive director of the AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our goal is to help drivers learn to heed the early warning signs of drowsiness so they can stop, rest, and then continue their journey as safely as possible.”

Participants in the research project drove a 150-mile simulated route at night and took regular breaks. Some rated their levels of drowsiness as low, when in fact three out of four were found to be moderately or severely drowsy. And even when drivers recognized that they were extremely drowsy, “they still declined 75 percent of their opportunities to take breaks and kept driving,” the report said.

The AAA’s suggestions for avoiding drowsiness are rather obvious, but worth noting: Don’t take medications that cause such conditions before a trip; limit yourself to one Big Mac and a small fry before hitting the road, and force yourself to take naps. “Pulling into a rest stop and taking a quick catnap — at least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes of sleep — can help to keep you alert on the road,” the report suggests.

The project was conducted at the National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa. Ninety participants (50 male/40 female; average age 31.4 years) completed the study. Established in 1947 by AAA, the Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded research and educational organization.

Avoiding Common Driving Annoyances

Avoiding common driving annoyances is something we all attempt to do when we get behind the wheel to face the madness of DFW traffic. But what about all of the annoying things you do as a driver? All of the things that seem to plague you throughout the day. Seriously, this sort of stuff happens to all of us at least one in our lives.

  • Can’t remember where you parked your car? : Sorry folks, this happens to the best of us. Regardless if it is because the parking is inefficient and confusing, or you just didn’t pay attention to where you parked, if this happens to you frequently, I have a suggestion. Use an app. There are quite a few to choose from. With names like ‘MyCar Locator’, ‘Car Finder’, ‘Find My Car’ or ‘Where Did I Park’, I’m sure you’ll find one you like.
  • Can’t avoid driving directly into the glare of the sun when it’s low on the horizon? : I can’t stand when this happens! There’s one point in my daily drive that’s a solid mile of setting Sun in my eyes during most of Spring. I told a friend, who is a pilot , and he told me a trick he does when he has to fly into the Sun for long periods of time. He carries a tinted translucent plastic sheets, they make them for cars too. You can find them under names like clinging shades, glare screens, or clinging glare blockers. There are types that attach to the visors as well that you can find at most automotive parts stores.
  • Can’t get that key on or off your key ring? : OK, this isn’t actually about driving, it’s more like a life hack. Remember those “snake fanged” staple removers you were likely obssesed with in elementary? Well, now they have another use! Be careful when you do this, but you can use the teeth to pry apart the loops. The harder you squeeze, the larger the opening.

These are just a few for now. I’ve got more I’ll be adding to what is looking like a 3 part blog series. It gives you some time to think about the things that annoy you whether you driving, or it has something to do with driving; I want to hear about it.