When you get inside your car and turn on the ignition, you take your life and the lives of others into your hands. The decisions you make while behind the wheel can determine whether you safely arrive at your destination or end up in a serious car accident. Not many people realize that cultivating healthy habits enables you to become a safer driver. Read on for advice on how healthy habits can improve or maintain your ability to drive safely.
Get Enough Sleep
People who get enough sleep at night are more alert when they drive. If you’re the kind of person who stays up late marathon-watching your favorite TV series, you probably don’t get enough shut-eye. Maybe you work third-shift or suffer from insomnia. Some sleep-deprived people unknowingly have sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. These factors often contribute to driving while exhausted.
When you try to drive after not getting enough rest, you lose the ability to quickly respond to potential road hazards. You run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel, running off the road or colliding with another vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 100,000 crashes reported to the police are a result of people driving while sleepy.
How do you know if you are too sleepy to drive? The answer is simple. If you can’t stop yawning, have trouble keeping your eyes open or experience blurry vision, those are signs that you are too tired to drive. Find a safe place to pull over so you can rest.
Prevent drowsy driving by getting enough sleep at night. If you’re a night-shift employee, make sure you are sleeping sufficiently during the day. And if you’re still exhausted, even when you get eight or more hours of sleep, consult with your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder or other medical issue that requires treatment.
Driving while sleepy isn’t the only way you can cause a serious car accident. When you try to multitask as you drive, you’re in danger of hurting yourself, your passengers and other drivers on the road. People who multitask as they drive engage in distracted driving. This could be as simple as scarfing down your lunch as you drive back to work or applying lipstick in the rearview mirror instead of watching the road. Some drivers may even have accidents when they change the radio station or put a new CD into the CD player.
Of course, there are also drivers who are obsessed with checking their cell phones while they drive. They text, email or chat on the phone instead of paying attention to their driving. In fact, the Federal Communications Commision reports that each day, more than eight people are killed and 1,161 are injured as a result of someone driving while distracted. This sobering fact helps all of us understand the importance of keeping our hands on the wheel and eyes and mind on the road.
If your goal is to be a safe driver, never take any substance or medication that impairs your ability to make wise decisions as you drive. Whether it’s alcohol, prescription medication or illegal drugs, all three can negatively affect the way you control your vehicle.
Marijuana slows your reaction time and interferes with coordination.Taking this drug and then trying to drive may cause you to drift into other drivers’ lanes. Marijuana also makes it difficult to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Cocaine causes aggressive, reckless driving–not something you want to experience while hurtling 70 mph down the interstate. In contrast, sedatives cause you to feel sleepy and dizzy. You run a higher risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Drinking alcohol and driving makes you lose visual function and the ability to perform two tasks simultaneously.
Practicing health lifestyle habits make us all better drivers. If you respect your body by getting enough sleep, avoiding substance abuse and paying attention to the way you drive your vehicle, you are more likely to reach your destination alive. And you’re less likely to be the cause of a tragic accident where people are seriously injured or even lose their lives.
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