Driving a vehicle is likely the most dangerous thing most of us will do today. It is cognitively demanding and requires coordination and accurate judgment. A simple mistake can have life changing impacts.

So would you do it with your eyes closed?

Is driving really that easy that you could?

Your eyelids are feeling heavy

So we’re sitting in the office. It’s warm and lunch is sitting heavy in your belly. Your current task is necessary but oh so boring. You watched one too many episodes on Netflix last night too. So your eyelids are feeling heavy…

At work, it’s easy to get up, stretch your legs, take a break, grab a coffee or a glass of water.

15 minutes later, you’re back into it, refreshed and that boring task is put to rest.

Sound familiar?

After all, this is in an office environment. Having your eyes closed on the job? Might raise some eyebrows.

Now let’s get into that vehicle. Your eyes start getting heavy, but this time you’re driving at 100kmh. Again, the task is oh so boring. But you’ve just got to get to your destination, right? You’re only tired, not drunk or speeding. You’ll make it.

Here’s the thing. Being tired behind the wheel is a danger too, just like drinking or speeding. Everyone knows driving drunk and driving too fast increase the chances of a crash. But, for some reason, being tired doesn’t seem to register as big a risk to many drivers. And unsurprisingly, 1 in 5 road incidents are due to fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

An acceptable risk?

These days, most people wouldn’t drive drunk. We understand the risks, and driving with a BAC exceeding 0.05 is not socially acceptable.

But did you know that being awake for 17 hours is estimated to impair your driving to the same level as having a BAC of 0.05? If you’ve been up for 21 hours, it’s closer to 0.15.

So even though you haven’t had those drinks, you could be driving like it if you’re tired.

Is that acceptable?

The solution that works every time

Drivers use a range of strategies to try and overcome fatigue behind the wheel, including:

  • Driver reviver
  • Drinking coffee
  • Switching drivers
  • Talking to passengers
  • Winding down the window
  • Turning the radio up.

The thing is that eating lollies, putting the windows down or the radio up are myths. There is really only one remedy to counter being tired when driving.

You guessed it – sleep.

This can only be achieved by being well rested before driving, and we can reduce the risk by stopping to rest or changing drivers where possible.

Among all mammals, humans are the only ones who voluntarily delay sleep. We might delay it, but we can’t fight sleep.

If you’re going to drive, you can’t do it with your eyes closed. So plan ahead, and ‘catch those zees’. You’ll feel better, perform better and, most important of all, reach your destination safely.

Check out NRSPP’s Third Road Safety Organisational Campaign on Driver Sleepiness, ‘With My Eyes Closed…’.

For more on driver sleepiness, also be sure to see Budget Direct’s release of their Fatigued driving and statistics 2021, highlighting some eye-opening findings and data.

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