Operating a motor vehicle may feel routine after years or even decades of driving. Still, the reality is that driving is a complex task that requires a combination of thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination each time you get behind the wheel. However, if you are driving impaired, your ability to operate a vehicle safely becomes compromised.
Most people know that driving under the influence of alcohol is incredibly dangerous. But there are other ways of driving impaired that can jeopardize your safety, too. By understanding what impacts your brain’s ability to drive safely, you can ensure you make responsible decisions every time you drive. Here are two lesser-known forms of impaired driving and what you can do to avoid them:
While it’s probably no surprise that illegal drugs can impair your ability to drive safely, many people are surprised to learn that their prescription medications or even their over-the-counter medications can be just as dangerous. Certain medications can affect the brain by altering perception or affecting coordination, reaction time or other skills need for safe driving.
Depending on the drug, even a small dose can have a severe impact on your driving abilities. Be sure always to read the side effects of the medicines you are taking and ask your doctor if your prescriptions could affect your driving.
You might not think twice about getting behind the wheel when you’re fatigued. In a 24/7 society, it’s all too common not to be getting the sleep you need to perform optimally. In the worst-case scenario, driving drowsy could result in you falling asleep behind the wheel. However, the risks don’t stop there.
Driving while drowsy has similar effects on the brain as driving drunk. Even if you don’t fall asleep while driving, drowsiness makes drivers less attentive, slows reaction time and affects their ability to make decisions. Your body needs adequate sleep daily. Be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each night to stay safe while driving. Medications may also cause drowsiness, so be sure to check the side effects.
Impaired driving doesn’t always involve using illegal substances – a poor night of sleep or a new medication could be just as dangerous if you’re not careful. By knowing what can affect your ability to drive, you can take the necessary precautions to ensure you stay safe on the road.