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Holiday hangover: Driving while drowsy

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Holiday hangover: Driving while drowsy

POSTED ON: 12/26/2019

The excitement of Christmas is over. You enjoyed the food, the drinks, the family, the shopping, the gatherings, and everything else that comes along with this joyous time. But now you’re exhausted. And you still have places to be...New Year's parties, work, returning gifts that don't fit. Be careful. Drunk driving is not the only danger on the road; distracted driving and drowsy driving can be very dangerous and can get you in trouble with the law. 

WHAT IS DROWSY DRIVING?

According to the CDC, drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue. This usually happens when a driver has not slept enough. They continue on to say that drowsiness:
- makes you less able to pay attention to the road.
- slows reaction time if you have to brake or steer suddenly.
- affects your ability to make good decisions.

Sound familiar? These can also be effects of driving under the influence of alcohol. A police officer may pull you over for these things and be ready to issue a DUI for your actions.

“OFFICER, BUT I’M NOT DRUNK!”

When a person is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, police officers may use field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests gauge a person’s coordination, balance, and simple motor skills but sometimes even sober people fail the tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sanctioned three field sobriety tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn tests. Reasons that people may fail these tests include stress and nervousness, inner ear problems, physical problems, age and weight, tiredness, and other things. Someone who is sleep deprived may also display one of law enforcement's favorite indicators of intoxication, bloodshot or watery eyes. Even if the officer believes your story of simply being really tired and lets you go without arresting you, the embarrassment and inconvenience of this road-side fiasco is still a lot to deal with.

WHAT CAN I DO TO AVOID THIS?

Get enough rest! Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. This is very important but many of us find it difficult to accomplish especially during the busy holiday season. As an occasional boost, caffeine can help to perk you up a little and may help you when driving. Caffeine takes some time to enter your system, so allow a little time before getting behind the wheel. Just make sure that you don’t regularly let caffeine take the place of a good night’s sleep. Another thing you can do is invite a friend or co-worker to tag along. The AAA suggests having a front seat passenger as a strategy to avoid drowsy driving since an alert passenger can watch you for signs of fatigue. If your New Year's resolutions involve improving your finances, carpooling to work will help that, too!

DON'T LET YOUR POST-HOLIDAY EXHAUSTION CAUSE YOU TO DRIVE UNSAFELY!

Make sure you don’t jeopardize your safety by squeezing in all of those holiday happenings without also squeezing in an adequate amount of rest. Running the roads this holiday season might be overwhelming but it'll be much more fun without getting a DUI on your way home. You're exhausted from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you're working lots of overtime to catch up from an expensive Christmas, and you're not sleeping well from the stress of it all. This creates a dangerous combination, and you should be careful when operating a vehicle during this holiday hangover. For more information on how Smart Start of Alabama is trying to keep the roadways safe this holiday season, browse our website to learn more about us.

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