Sleep Deprived – I Nearly Crashed

Sleep Deprivation:  The New Alcohol Threat On The Road.

I Nearly Crashed When Driving Tired

Wow.  All this happened 40 years ago and it’s still pretty vivid in my mind.

I remember what a great trip it was to visit my Mum and friends in Sydney when I had a weekend off from my job as a Jackaroo.  It was about a 4-5 hour drive from home and I got away mid Friday afternoon and all was well as I arrived home around 8pm.

fatigue, sleep, driving fatigue, sleep deprivation, drowsy, drunk driver, drink driving, sleepiness, dangerous driving

Fatigue – Tired Drivers Kill

All the family was around, which was unusual, and I had a ball with my friends and all in all it was a pretty solid weekend.

The party on Saturday night was the usual blast and a few over indulged – as youngsters did and still do now.  Everything changes but it all stays the same doesn’t it.

I decided to hang around til early Monday morning and to drive back to the cattle station early in the morning.  Yep – I was going to get to bed early so I’d get in 6 plus hours of sleep before I got up and on the road at 3 am.  Best laid plans.

Somehow the evening disappeared and it was close to midnight when we all said our good-nights and goodbyes.

I was young ever so fit – I’d be fine.

I had no trouble getting to sleep but wasn’t too keen when the alarm went off at 3 but up I got and was on the road at 3.30am ready for a nice drive up the New England Highway.  There were a few short-cuts and a bit of dirt road but they cut about 1/2 an hour of driving time in those days and the weather was clear and dry so I took them.  I was really enjoying the trip.

Around 4.30 the sky started to turn blue as it does just before dawn.  It always captivates me seeing that colour shade – I read recently it’s an important signal to our body rhythms.  Before long sunrise and the morning skies opened up to the brilliant sunlight  and all was going well.  I was past Scone before I knew it and on the last leg of the trip.  I had taken a couple of breaks and had some coffee with me in a Thermos and some sandwiches (thanks Mum) so thought I was doing ok.

It wasn’t too far past Ellerston, and I was thinking “so close”, that I had my little incident.

I was fine!
Suddenly all was black!
Bang! Nasty jolt! Noises!

The Adrenalin Shot Hit Me!

Awake in a micro-second.

Where was the road? 

What’s that fence doing there?

NO NOT A TREE !!!!!!

My reflexes took over.

Brake!
Down a gear!
Turn!
Steer right! Get away from fence.
Brake! Hard Right! Accelerate!
Scooting the tree – so so so close.
Bounce on the verge!
Back up onto the road.
Left! Straighten up!
Brake and down the gears!
Stop!

I’m still here.

Feel the Heartbeat 180+ and I can feel it in my chest as I take in big breathes of air.

Stop the car.

Get out.

Mental check!!!

What the ….. just happened??????

Look back.

Few seconds had passed.

I’d travelled probably 100 yards from when I left the road to getting the car to a stop to get to this point to recollect myself.

How quick you go from safe and happy to – I could have killed myself!!!

What if I’d been on a busy road?  What if I’d had passengers and that happened?

So many thoughts running through my mind of “What ifs” and “How Lucky”.

I took a few minutes there – settling – and, knowing where I was, drove a short way to a creek.

I shivered, feeling the shock, as I doused myself with the chilly crystal clear water and reality smacked me in the face.

Drive the final few miles?

No!!!- Have a sleep!  No question about it!
I did and it lasted about 3/4 of an hour until someone arrived for a break at the creek.

I got back in the car and headed to my quarters at the cattle station-
somewhat unnerved but a whole lot wiser.

 

It could have been you – Only Drive Well Rested.

Police here in Queensland, where I now live,  say that sleep deprived drivers are as big if not a bigger risk on the roads than drunks behind the wheel.

Be well rested before you drive, wherever you may be, for you might not be as lucky as I was.  You might become another road toll statistic.

Fatigue indicators include:

  • not feeling refreshed after sleep;
  • a greater tendency to fall asleep while at work;
  • more frequent naps during leisure hours;
  • feelings of weariness or sleepiness;
  • extended sleep during days off; and
  • increased errors and loss of concentration.

The following warning signs will tell you your body is sleepy:

  • a drowsy, relaxed feeling;
  • blurred vision;
  • difficulty keeping your eyes open;
  • head nodding;
  • excessive yawning; and
  • drifting in and out of your lane.

These warning signs should not be ignored.

People have a limited ability to predict the onset of sleep, and by continuing to drive when sleepy they put themselves and others at risk.

Illustration : http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2010/171/d/f/Fatigue_by_Jemshed.jpg
Fatigue indicators: http://www.transport.nt.gov.au/safety/road-safety/resources/fatigue-management/information-for-drivers

2 Responses to “Sleep Deprived – I Nearly Crashed”

  1. Boon says:

    Driving when u do not have enough rest is dangerous. It happened to my friend. He had coffee with his friend till morning. Didn’t sleep. And whIle driving he dozed off. Fortunately the car hit a lamp post and stopped. He escaped without any injuries. And he had no idea that he was driving with his eyes closed.

    • Chris Stanton-Cook says:

      Hey Boon, Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the post.
      Thanks for sharing the story about your friend because people need to become more aware of this danger. Glad to hear your friend was uninjured.

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