There are certain physical states that people recognize will negatively affect their driving skills. For example, almost everyone understands that alcohol and drugs, even cold medication, might affect their performance at the wheel. People also understand that distraction makes them unable to monitor their surroundings and will increase their reaction time, possibly leading to preventable collisions. They may even accept the idea that they could cause a crash if they drive when intensely emotional.
However, there are other physical conditions that could affect someone’s driving that people generally think that they can simply overcome. Mind over matter is not the right approach for somebody who is dealing with one of the two issues below.
If someone feels a little bit tired at the end of their workday, they could potentially overcome their symptoms by stretching and going for a walk around the parking lot before getting in their vehicle.
However, if someone has gone 20 hours or more without sufficient sleep, then their fatigued state will impair their driving ability to the same extent as being at the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) would. Those who feel drowsy or who have gone a long time without adequate rest would be safest if they ask someone else to drive them home.
Health concerns like colds or the flu
Quite a few people will go to work or otherwise carry on their daily lives like normal when they are sick. They may tell themselves that they don’t have the leisure of taking a day off, and so they force themselves to handle all of their typical daily responsibilities despite being ill.
Not only can sickness itself affect someone’s driving skill by increasing reaction times and diminishing situational awareness, but the medications that people take to counter cold and flu symptoms could potentially impair their ability to drive safely as well.
Those who recognize that they cannot simply power through their current circumstances and try to drive despite their illness or exhaustion can better protect themselves from injury and liability. Understanding how small choices can lead to motor vehicle collisions can help drivers protect themselves and the people who ride in their vehicles with them.