There’s an old joke which says; the most important piece of safety equipment on a motor vehicle, is the nut behind the wheel. All joking aside, that means you. In order for every driver on the highway to enjoy the privilege of continuous safety, you have to play your part and do whatever it takes to be a fit and responsible driver. To an extent, that means obeying the highway code dutifully. But it also means taking proper care of your body and keeping yourself in good health. The first rule of responsible driving is that motorists must be physically capable of safely operating a vehicle. If anything about your health interferes with this rule, your bear the ultimate responsibility of making things right before you ever get behind the wheel. Here are a few dangerous symptoms which all good drivers should address before an accident happens:
I. Poor Vision:
Nearly all of the sensory input we need to safely operate a motor vehicle comes from visual cues. If you cannot see clearly, you will have difficulty detecting hazardous situations and judging distances. Moreover, all drivers need strong peripheral vision to detect vehicles coming up beside a car. Unless you intend to restrict your driving to certain times of day, you must also be able to see well under a variety of lighting conditions. Many drivers who see clearly in the daytime may see poorly at night. They may not be able to see well in dimly lit conditions either. Or they may have trouble with the glare from the headlights of approaching vehicles. If and when you notice any changes in your vision whatsoever, visit an optician immediately to confirm whether you need corrective lenses or other forms of treatment.
Fatigue is the decreased capacity to function normally because of excessive stimulation or exertion. It usually manifests itself as drowsiness or a general sense of weariness. Fatigue can be caused by a lack of sleep, physical overexertion, overeating, long distance commutes, or prolonged anxiety. Fatigue compromises your ability to concentrate. It also slows down your reaction time, and may affect your ability to control a vehicle. The best way to avoid fatigue is to take preventative measures well in advance of getting behind the wheel. For example:
▪ Get enough sleep on a regular basis.
▪ Monitor your physical condition before entering your vehicle. If you feel extremely tired, don’t drive.
▪ Avoid driving late at night. Most drivers are less alert at night, especially after midnight.
▪ Don’t take any drugs that can make you drowsy.
Stress is a physiological reaction to unusual physical or emotional stimuli. The stress reaction often begins with a shot of adrenaline which raises the heart-rate and sharpens our perceptions, preparing us to respond to pressure with a fight-or-flight instinct. Stress becomes a risk factor during driving, when it becomes acute to the point of distraction. Too much stress can leave us hyped-up, and interfere with our ability to properly focus on the task of driving. Monitor your stress level before entering the vehicle. If you feel as if stress will make it impossible to remain courteous and attentive on the road, do not get behind the wheel until you can refocus.
Driving is easy once you get the hang of things, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a very complicated activity. Not only do drivers have to maintain control of sophisticated vehicles, they have to keep an eye out for the ever-changing circumstances in their immediate surroundings and, react to unpredictable surprises with speed and composure. This is only possible if you are a driver in good physical condition. Your mind has to be alert, your body has to be agile, and even your eyes have to be ready to deal with the variables of driving. Don’t allow yourself to suffer through pain and discomfort if you know it will get in the way of your performance as a driver. “”