Have you ever dozed off momentarily when driving, drifted into another lane without realising what you are doing, or hit a rumble strip or another object that re-awakened you ? The chances are that you have ! If so, you just had a near death experience!
At 100 km/hr, your car travels at 27.7 metres in a single second. So during a three-second micro-sleep your car would travel 83 metres! which is almost the length of a football field. At 50 km/hr, your car travels 41 metres in a three-second micro-sleep.
" Your eyes don't need to shut for your mind to be asleep, 'zoning out' is a common symptom of driving while tired "
A road carriageway is 3.5 metres wide. In a three-second micro-sleep you could easily drift across the centreline into the path of an oncoming car or drift off to the side and crash into a tree. Drifting to the side is easy when you are drowsy.
Crucial Driving Skills Are Lost
Drowsiness impairs your driving performance. During a micro-sleep you experience total loss of control over your vehicle. Drowsiness reduces your attention of road events and compromises crucial driving skills. For example;
Falling asleep is the final extreme stage of drowsy driving but it is important to realise that you don't have to close your eyes and sleep to be a danger on the road. Indeed, what makes drowsy-driving so deadly is that you become such a poor judge of how impaired you actually are when you are drowsy.
Drowsy driving can affect anyone including you. Sleep is an involuntary action you can't dictate exactly when you will fall asleep at night. Everyone is susceptible to drowsy driving. Think of when you have been sitting in front of the television reading a book and you have just nodded off without even realising it.
Sleep is a neuro-biological function
Sleep is a neuro-biological function with predictable patterns of sleepiness and wakefulness.
Our brain is designed to be awake for no more than sixteen hours at a time and then to be asleep for eight hours in order to recover. When we are sleep deprived our brain performance starts to be impaired and we can become as impaired as someone who is drunk.
With increasing sleep deprivation the neuro-biological need to sleep can become so powerful as to shut down the brain in a 'sleep attack' even if you are driving in the city.
Cumulative sleep deprivation or having interrupted sleep can also have deadly consequences if we drive.
It is therefore important to rid ourselves of the idea that feeling sleepy is something to do with laziness or personal weakness, it is a neuro-biological need of the body. Feeling sleepy can and does affect everyone.
So You Think You're in Control!
Research has found that training, occupation, education, will power, driver skill, motivation and intelligence have no influence on reducing the need for sleep. You need sleep just like you need food and water.