The University of Alabama Birmingham conducted research over the course of a year about the most dangerous driving risk factors. Among the main risk factors is the most common distracted driving example, texting and driving, and a less talked about distraction, driving with children. The study also cited aggressive driving and drowsy driving as contributors to accidents.
A main takeaway of the study is that it is important for drivers to know that although distracted driving is a main cause of accidents, there are various other habits to avoid that put yourself and others on the road at risk.
Drowsy Driving Impairs Functioning, Similar to Drunk Driving
You may think that not getting enough sleep is no big deal, but lack of sleep severely affects your ability to drive because this impairs cognitive function. Lack of sleep causes you to be less alert, and ultimately, less aware of your surroundings.
There is a direct correlation between lack of sleep and accidents as according to the study, those who sleep only four to five hours a night are 5.4 times more likely to be involved in an accident. That’s a significant increase that you don’t want to risk.
If you are drowsy, accidents have a higher chance of occurring because the effects of drowsy driving are similar to those of drunk driving. Therefore, if you are driving and find yourself blinking frequently, notice your reaction time is delayed or that you are falling asleep, you must act to keep yourself and others on the road safe.
There are a few tips to consider if you notice yourself becoming drowsy while driving. However, the safest bet may be to have another passenger drive or pull over safely to contact someone to pick you up.
If You Notice You Are Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel:
- Open a Window
- Put on Music
- Speak with Passengers
- Drink Caffeine
- Pull Over Safely and Take a Nap
However, the most important prevention is ensuring you get enough shut-eye each night to be more refreshed and alert. In addition to a myriad of health and wellness benefits, add being a safer driver on the list of reasons to aim for eight solid hours of sleep a night.
It’s important to understand the risks of drowsy driving, especially as daylight savings time will end on November 4, 2018. Therefore, sunrise and sunset will occur about an hour earlier than before. This change can be difficult for people to become used to. This can be especially difficult for drivers to get accustomed to, especially as driving in the late afternoon will be significantly darker.
Speeding & Aggressive Driving Can Cause Accidents
You may have an image in mind when you think of an aggressive driver: an angry person, constantly honking, screaming at another car and trying to run it off the road. Although this is a correct representation of an aggressive driver, actions such as speeding and running red lights are considered to be aggressive as well.
An overwhelming amount of drivers at 80% have reported that they demonstrated aggressive behavior while driving at least once in the past year.
Speeding is a common aggressive driving behavior that according to the data from the study, many drivers are guilty of doing. But speeding isn’t just a harmless way to get to your destination faster. With increasing your speed, you have less control of your car, which can lead to accidents.
Unfortunately, these speeding-related accidents can be fatal. In fact, Alabama ranks third in the nation for traffic fatalities caused by speeding.
Driving can be extremely stressful, but that’s why it’s important to own up to your aggressive behaviors and work on breaking the habit to be a more responsible driver.
How to Avoid Aggressive Driving:
- Leave for Your Destination Early
- Take Deep Breaths
- Abide by the Speed Limit
- Don’t Engage in Aggressive Behavior with Other Drivers
Hopefully, drivers will utilize these important tips to not only avoid distracted driving, but drowsy and aggressive driving as well, which will ultimately keep yourself and others safe on the roads.
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