Sleeping at the wheel Essay

This essay has a total of 956 words and 5 pages.

sleeping at the wheel

Sleeping At the Wheel



The dangers of sleepiness when driving.
Sleepiness affects the ability to concentrate and maintain attention and vigilance
particularly when physically inactive. These effects may expose the sleepy individual to
potentially dangerous consequences, particularly in sedentary and monotonous situations
such as while driving a vehicle. Sleepiness is a major contributing factor to road traffic
accidents. Studies of motorway accidents indicate that 20 to 25% appear to be due to
drivers falling asleep at the wheel and are these are particularly likely to occur in the
early morning or mid afternoon.

Accidents in which the driver has fallen asleep tend to be particularly serious because of
the lack of reaction of the driver to the impending collision. Furthermore, sleepy drivers
report a high incidence of near-misses on the road while driving, which suggests that they
have an awareness of the driving risks related to sleepiness short of being involved in an
actual collision. A Gallup poll carried out by the British Sleep Foundation found that 19%
of male drivers admitted to having fallen asleep while driving . Occupations such as
long-haul truck driving are particularly associated with sleepiness while driving which
may not be surprising given the time they spend on the road. These findings are
particularly worrying because of the likelihood of a fatal accident where a large truck
driven by a driver who falls asleep is involved. Many spectacular multiple vehicle
collisions that have occurred on motorways have been traced to drivers falling asleep at
the wheel.

US government figures indicate that 31% of lorry accidents in which the driver is killed are due to sleepiness.
Avoiding sleeping at the wheel.
All drivers should be made aware of the serious dangers of driving when sleepy and should
take active measures to minimise the risks. Drivers should not start out at all if they
are sleepy. Overnight drives are a particular danger and every effort should be made to
have a sleep before setting out. If a driver becomes sleepy at the wheel they should stop
and ideally another driver should take over. If this is impossible they should rest and
take a nap. Research has shown that a short (10 - 20 minutes) nap can be refreshing in
this situation. Indeed if one has to drive on, the best measure may be to stop, have a cup
of a caffeine containing drink and then a 20 minute nap. Thus when you waken you have the
double benefit of a refreshing nap and the caffeine having been absorbed and starting to
take effect. Other measures such as driving with the windows open and turning up the radio
are relatively ineffective.

Obviously, every effort should be made to remove the underlying cause of sleepiness,
whether this be due to overwork, shiftwork family commitments or an underlying medical
problem such as sleep apnoea The dangers of driving when sleepy cannot be overemphasised.
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