By Master Trooper Gary Cutler
How often do you ask yourself if you are driving impaired? I know you’re asking why you would ask yourself that if you are not drinking. But are you actually impaired and don’t realize it? Think of it this way, have you ever driven when you were tired or just drove while daydreaming? Let’s take a look at this idea.
The official definition of Driving While Ability Impaired is driving a motor vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.
So when you drive when you’re tired and having trouble keeping your eyes open just because you are trying to make it to your destination, isn’t that impairment? Have you ever been driving and found yourself daydreaming? Ever wondered how you drove so far when you came out of your daydream? See. It’s becoming a little clearer.
Let’s go back to part of the above definition: affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.
I know that when I am tired, I qualify under the definition of impairment. I am not in a position to be doing actions in which greater concentration is needed. That’s especially true when driving. I know that my motor skills are going to be lacking. I may not see things in front of me. It will take me longer to react to situations and I may not make the right choice due to having what I like to call a brain fog from being too tired.
When patrolling the roads, I have come across people weaving, driving slowly, and going through stop signs all because they were too tired to drive. When I talked with the drivers, all of them had the same attributes of someone that has been drinking. So I ask you, how many of you would never think about drinking and driving, but have gotten behind the wheel and drove while tired? The outcome can be the same; you won’t get a DUI or go to jail, but you may get a ticket or be involved in a crash.
So make sure you are awake and aware enough to drive prior to getting behind the wheel. If you are on a trip and start feeling tired, take the time to give yourself a break. Get something to eat, exercise, get some fresh air, or if it’s bad enough get some sleep.
The next time you’re about to get into your car, stop first and ask yourself if you are too tired to be driving. You owe it to your passengers as well as the other drivers on the road not to have a brain fog.
As always, safe travels!