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Most drivers know it’s very irresponsible to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These substances impair one’s ability to control a vehicle, remain alert, make wise decisions on the road, and more.
However, we sometimes place so much emphasis on spreading the word about the dangers of drunk driving that we forget to highlight the dangers of another very risky behavior: drowsy driving.
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that lack of rest can impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle in the same manner that alcohol can. Studies and surveys also show that many who have been involved in accidents as a result of falling asleep at the wheel did not realize they were tired enough to doze off when they made the decision to drive.
Recognizing the signs that you’re too tired to drive can play a critical role in both your safety and the safety of those with whom you share the road. Signs you need to get some rest before driving include:
This is a sign to monitor yourself for if you’re already driving. Periodically, attempt to recall the details of the past few miles you’ve traveled. Ask yourself what types of vehicles you’ve shared the road with. Try to remember any significant visual landmarks you’ve passed. If you’ve been listening to the radio, attempt to recall which songs you’ve heard. You may be too drowsy to drive safely if you’re having trouble remembering these details.
Yawning & Eye Rubbing
These are telltale physical signs indicating you need rest. If you’re yawning, rubbing your eyes, or otherwise displaying any physical/behavioral signs associated with someone who’s tired, odds are good you need more rest before operating a motor vehicle.
Lack of sleep can significantly impact a person’s mood. If you’re feeling cranky, low, or otherwise less positive than you would normally feel, and you know you haven’t rested in a fairly long time, you may not be able to operate a motor vehicle without putting yourself or others in harm’s way.
Many drivers know they need to monitor others for signs of erratic behavior that can indicate they’re intoxicated, tired, or otherwise incapable of driving safely. You must also monitor yourself for these signs. Examples include:
- Overlooking traffic signs/signals
- Missing an exit
- Failure to maintain a lane
- Driving either too slowly or too fast