Everyday things almost as bad as drink driving
We all know that it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. Amongst many other potential consequences, it can result in the loss of life. But, some will be unaware of everyday things almost as bad as drink driving. These include the following:
The majority of drivers take a keen interest in checking engine oil, coolant and washing the windscreen before heading out on a long journey. However, only a few people give any attention to their body fluid levels. Driving on a hot summer's day may affect your concentration and co-ordination due to dehydration.
Drivers may experience the following symptoms of dehydration:
- Dry mouth
- Feeling dizzy (lightheaded)
- Muscle cramps
- Loss of focus
- Slower reaction time
Scientists conducted a study at Loughborough University which involved putting drivers through a series of tests. The purpose of this study was to find out the effects of dehydration on the performance of a driver.
The concluding results were stunning. When dehydrated, the drivers made double the number of errors. The lack of fluids reduced test subjects' focus and vigilance significantly. This caused early or late braking and hovering out of lane. Those testing established that you would expect the same numbers from drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and drugs. In this study, the scientists did not mention the amount of drugs and alcohol that cause similar errors. Nonetheless, it remains that dehydration has a negative effect on driving.
To keep hydrated, doctors strongly recommend drinking two litres of water daily in hot weather. The drivers should make sure to consume enough non-alcoholic drinks before and during a long journey, even if it means making regular pit-stops along the way. Also, remember that air conditioning will not hydrate you. In fact, it will have an adverse effect as it will make the atmosphere drier.
Hay fever affects around 13 million people in the United Kingdom. Most of the drivers use some kind of medication during the pollen season to alleviate symptoms of a runny nose and itchy eyes. Some of these medications are antihistamine tablets which can cause blurred vision, drowsiness, nausea and a fall in reaction time. This, obviously, increases the likelihood of drivers having an accident. In the case of a crash, the authorities can arrest and prosecute drivers, leaving them with a criminal record. If convicted of drug-driving, a one-year driving ban can be imposed with an unlimited fine. The drivers may also receive six months imprisonment in extreme cases.
Drivers should check the label of their medication before taking it and getting behind the steering wheel. If they have any doubts, they should immediately consult a pharmacist. Officials have categorised some of the medications in the drug-driving laws alongside the likes of cocaine and cannabis. In the case of mild symptoms, stick to the basic remedies like nasal sprays and eye drops. Drivers should also prevent pollen inside the car by keeping windows closed, even when parked.
When people return from the airport after a holiday, they don’t think twice about driving. The jet lag from a flight can be threatening as the body clock gets out of synchronisation. Travelling through different time zones disrupts your sleep pattern which results in tiredness and reduced focus. Taking a cab is the best option in this type of situation. Another option is to go to a nearby hotel to get some rest before driving home.
If driving without rest is inevitable, people should pull over in the rest areas to get food and drink to keep them awake. Eating a banana, porridge or drinking coffee can help to maintain the glucose levels.
A cup of tea is a favourite amongst Brits but it is a lesser known fact that some herbal teas can cause drowsiness. Herbs like lavender, valerian and chamomile are mildly sedative and help to relax. They may be a good option before bedtime but they are not recommended before or during the drive. Although there aren’t any reports of accidents caused by the consumption of herbal teas, it is best to avoid them as they can affect the focus of the driver. The safest option is to stick with caffeinated beverages and avoid adding honey to them. Researches have shown that honey can hold up the production of orexin that keeps us alert and awake.
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