Wake up! Drowsy Driving Awareness Week is November 4th – 11th, and we are asking Georgia drivers to be awake and vigilant. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes per year are a result of drowsy driving. The 2017 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report states that approximately 43% of drivers have at least one or more days in which they get less than six hours of sleep at night during a typical week and of those drivers, 3 in 10 admit to driving when they are so exhausted they can’t keep their eyes open.
While we can all agree that drowsy driving is a serious threat to our safety, a large portion of people find themselves in drowsy driving situations. In an attempt to combat drowsy driving, popular tactics such as resorting to caffeine, loud music and the air-conditioning to stay awake, have become universally accepted. But with Drowsy Driving Awareness Week upon us, Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore LLC wants to examine those popular tactics and bust them as the myths that they are.
Myth: Caffeine can keep you awake for long periods.
Fact: Most people resort to high-volumes of caffeine when they need to drive while tired. While caffeine does keep you awake, it doesn’t make you more alert. It takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter your bloodstream, and even then, the beverages can still lead to micro-sleeps, where you fall asleep for a few seconds at a time. While it can be a temporary drowsy-driving fighter, it will not necessarily make you more aware.
Myth: Air Conditioning will keep you awake when you are driving drowsy.
Fact: Many drivers crank up the air conditioning in an effort to stay awake while driving. It’s an attempt to mimic the feeling of fresh, outdoor air to trigger to your brain that it’s not time to sleep yet. But unfortunately, while it may stimulate your brain for a few minutes, it won’t keep you awake for long periods of time. The better option would be to pull over and take a short nap or take a walk. Keeping your muscles moving communicates to your brain that you aren’t going to sleep.
Myth: Loud music or turning on the radio will stimulate your brain and keep you awake.
Fact: The idea that turning on the radio and energizing our brain is also a myth. What really will keep you awake is having a conversation with someone in the car. If someone is engaging you, your brain is remaining active to continue the conversation. Also, the person can assist you by telling you when they think it’s time for you to pull over. However, if you’re trying to find creative ways to stay awake you should already be heading for a safe location to pull-over and take a power nap.
Myth: A sugar rush will give you high energy and keep you awake for your drive.
Fact: When people have a drive ahead of them and are feeling exhausted, they may resort to a sugar rush by consuming energy drinks or sugary treats. This does cause a person to become more alert, but not in a healthy way. When we eat sugar, the pancreas releases insulin to manage that sugar; a large amount of sugar followed by a significant amount of insulin puts the body in “danger mode” which leads to fatigue. According to LEAF tv, a sugar rush only lasts 15 to 40 minutes, and therefore is not reliable for combating drowsy driving. In fact, eating a good meal that is low in sugar before you drive can provide some energy that doesn’t lead to a dramatic rise or energy fall.
Avoidance, Preparation, and Sleep
So what’s the best way to combat drowsy driving? Avoiding drowsy driving at all costs. This is done with proper preparation. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before you need to operate your vehicle. Take advantage of other transportation opportunities such as carpooling, public transportation or taxi-services. If you have a long-haul drive ahead of you, leave when the sun is coming up, as it’s likely your natural biological schedule to stay awake then. You can utilize caffeine, conversation, and fresh air, but don’t rely solely on them for long periods of time. Rely on sleep, as it’s the best cure for fatigue.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a vehicle collision due to drowsy driving and needs help with their personal injury case, contact Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore LLC by calling (404) 436-1529 or emailing us at Jennifer@atlinjurylawgroup.com.