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What is ‘dozing and driving?’

Drowsy driving accidents are those ‘in-the-blink-of-an-eye’ occurrences, you close your eyes for what seems like a second and then, bam.

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Last week, this humble column was not available for pleasurable consumption by you, our dear readers, because this equally-humble columnist had dental surgery to remove her wisdom tooth. I drove to my dentist’s clinic in Quezon City, confident that I was a big girl already, an adult, if you will, refusing my sister’s offer of driving for me. I figured, I’d go in, tooth would be plucked out, anesthesia will wear off then I can drive myself back home, easy-peasy. I was wrong.

I went in and my dentist, Doc Raymond Ligon, who has been my whole family’s dentist for more than a decade, was chatting with his friend about his newly-bought Benz. Naturally, I get to chatting with him, too, about cars, bikes, how I like BMW more than Benz, road trips and driving around. We start the procedure cheery and chatty with everything seemingly hunky-dory till we got to the extraction phase. Long and short, it took an hour to get the tooth out, and with three shots of anesthesia, I went from confident that I can drive me home to being escorted to a Grab which my Mum booked for me since I was super groggy from the anesthesia.

Now, where is this column going? Let me continue.

In the past week that we were not in touch with one another, dear readers, reports of two different vehicular accidents came in. The first accident happened last Tuesday, involving a white vehicle that hit a road divider along Felix Avenue in Cainta, toppling over in the process, while the other accident happened just last Friday, when a pickup truck went straight over a small bridge into a river in the Taguig area. There were no casualties with the first one, but, unfortunately, one man died from his injuries after being hit by the pickup. What do they have in common? Allegedly, both drivers fell asleep on the wheel while driving.

We all know the dangers of drunk driving. Apart from being illegal, there are just so many reasons one should not drive drunk. But, do you know that driving sleepy, or what the experts call “drowsy driving,”’ is as dangerous as drunk driving? Maybe you wouldn’t, and I don’t blame you.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SLEEPFOUNDATION.ORG
DRIVING sleepy, or what the experts call ‘drowsy driving,’ is as dangerous as drunk driving.

According to Bankrate.com, a personal finance website, in one of their accident insurance reports, “drowsy driving, also known as driver fatigue or tired driving, is the act of driving or operating a motor vehicle while tired and feeling fatigued or sleepy” citing tiredness from work, stress or having children as common reasons to be short on sleep. However, it adds that other factors can contribute to drowsy driving such as being on medication or having an untreated sleep disorder.

The report goes on to share that the groups at risk for drowsy driving are people with sleep disorders, jetlagged people, professionals with grueling work shifts like nurses and doctors, and then teens and young drivers. The accidents I mentioned above — the first one, had a nurse and a doctor as driver and passenger. Understandably, they would be unbelievably tired from their jobs as front liners. The one in Taguig that resulted in a man’s life ending, involved a bunch of young men on what seemed like a social outing.

“The most expensive cost of drowsy driving is the human toll that it takes each year.” We always hear “don’t drink and drive,” let us also keep in mind “don’t be sleep-drunk and drive.” Drowsy driving accidents are those “in-the-blink-of-an-eye” occurrences, you close your eyes for what seems like a second and then, bam. That’s all she wrote.

They say people sleep to avoid problems; sleeping is also quite effective in avoiding accidents. Too tired from work? Stop and take a nap. Groggy from anesthesia or medication? Ask your Mum to book you a Grab. Sleepy from partying all night? Let another non-sleepy friend take the wheel. Be wise, do not doze and drive.

“I would like to thank Aking Dentista, Doc Raymond, for the successful wisdom tooth extraction, and his dental assistant, Ms. Minnie, for taking care of me all throughout and making sure I got in a Grab and did not drive myself home.”

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