The road game is 12 hours away, another big one for the Red Sox. You and the fellas hatch a plan to be there. After a full day of work and house chores, you hit the road just after midnight and expect to be in your seats by the national anthems. If you can make it there unscathed.
Somewhere along the journey, your eyelids become heavy and you struggle to recall anything about the last 10 miles driven. Lucky the lane you just swerved into was empty. You had to slam the brakes to avoid plowing into a traffic backup. How important is this game?
Staying alert on the road
Do not sleep on the risks of nodding off behind the wheel. The danger affects everyone on the road. In 2017, there were 91,000 crashes blamed on drowsy driving, which killed 795 people and injured about 50,000. Wrecks usually happen on rural roads and highways between midnight and 6 a.m. — prime sleeping time.
Only two states have passed criminal laws targeting drowsy drivers who kill or injure someone. In Massachusetts, drivers still can be held liable for damages in a civil lawsuit if their actions cause serious harm.
The National Sleep Foundation has several tips to avoid drowsy driving crashes:
- Drive sober. Drinking alcohol or using drugs impairs driving and increases fatigue.
- Get a wingman. Having passengers can help you remain alert and hand off driving duties so you can nap.
- Take breaks. Stop for a refreshment or pull over to a safe spot and take a 30-minute nap.
- Get your sleep. Eight hours of sleep per night is the gold standard but especially before taking a long trip.
Forget the old standbys for combating drowsiness in the driver’s seat. Putting down the windows for a blast of fresh air, cranking the volume on the stereo or chugging black coffee is good for a temporary jolt, but they are not reliable safeguards.
Fatigue can delay your reaction time for steering and braking. It also can slow down your decision-making. No one is immune to fatigue. We all have places to go for work and fun. It is imperative to take responsibility for your physical condition before you get behind the wheel.
Understand your limits
Spontaneity is the spice of life, so the old saying goes. Dropping everything and dashing off to watch the Sox with your best friends is a ready-made memory of a lifetime. Just make sure you get there in one piece. Do not sacrifice safe driving for expediency. The risks to you, your passengers and fellow motorists are too high when you are too tired to focus on the road.
Enjoy the road trip. Come home safely so you can attend the next game at Fenway.