Drowsy Driving: Risks and Evaluation

drowsy driving: risks and evaluation

Welcome to Ben’s Chronicles

Hello! I’m Ben from EINSURANCE. Trust me, I know there are plenty of things we’d both probably rather be doing than discussing insurance. But although insurance gets a bad rap, it does have its benefits; especially when you find the right coverage and carrier.

Unfortunately, throughout my life I have had a knack for being at the wrong place, at the right time. Given my gravitational pull toward bad luck, I wanted to share a few of my life experiences with you in hopes that my bad luck could benefit you. So, bear with me over the upcoming weeks, because I’ll be sharing little nuggets I’ve learned through navigating the insurance world. If my mishaps and theories don’t directly help answer any of your insurance related questions, I promise they’ll make you laugh, albeit at my expense…

If you would like me to discuss a specific topic, feel free to email me at [email protected].

Today our topic is:

Drowsy Driving – Risks and Evaluation

Society has done a fairly good job at identifying the several factors that can either impair one’s driving, or lead directly to an accident. Whether its drowsy driving, or driving while distracted, there have been millions of dollars invested in researching safety and driving.

As a result, the overall awareness of safe driving has progressed significantly over the years. One aspect of driving that doesn’t receive as much attention as it should is driving while drowsy; sleepy driving. Not only is it hard to research, it’s hard for any individual to pinpoint the progression of drowsiness. Of course, its associated with night driving, but poor driving and accidents can easily happen during the day, caused by driving while sleepy. Drowsiness can strike at any point in time during. Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way.

My Own Story

I have been driving since I was twelve years old. For some reason, I’ve always wanted to be behind the wheel. My mom obliged this desire with allowing me to navigate random parking lots with her car. By the time I had my license, at the age of 16, I had been driving for nearly four years. Thus, by the time I reached college, I felt I was a professional driver. My first car was a tiny, white Geo Storm. You could literally pick the car up and move it across the street if you needed to. I loved that car. It was dependable, maneuvered well, and was surprisingly fast. My college was located circa 45 minutes from Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the time, my father resided in Minneapolis, so I’d frequently drive to the city and back to school in the same day. By the middle of my college career, I had driven the route so often, I knew what potholes where at which exit and could have probably driven it blindfolded.

One weekday, I had a break in between classes and football practice, and thought I’d run to the city quickly and visit my father. The weather wasn’t horrible, but there was a bit of snow on the road, as it always was in Minnesota. Given it was the middle of the week and midday, sleep or lack thereof was not even remotely in my thoughts. I hit the road as if it was a chore I had been used to doing. However, this time around there was no real excitement about getting to the destination, nor any to return back to school; just the monotonous, mundane terrain of rural Minnesota. Although beautiful, at that point in my college career I had seen the visage from the highway several times. Suddenly, 30 miles to my exit seemed like forever, and I began to notice every single mile as they drifted by, slowly. I thought I may have been bored, but not truly tired. After all, it was only noon. I recall the next series of events vividly.

I had finally made it to my exit. One of the roads to my father’s home was a two-way street and was on a slight hill. In retrospect, I now know that because I was finally entering my exit, my ‘guard’ in terms of heightened awareness went down. It was as if my mind said, ‘we made it.’ At the moment of turning from the exit, I closed my eyes for what seemed like a split second, undoubtedly from fatigue. Unfortunately, this occurred just as I was entering the descent of the hill leading to my father’s place. Upon awakening, there was a jolt of life in me, instantly I wanted to press the brakes as hard as I could, but given the road was wet and I was building momentum going downhill, I did not. Even though I tapped the breaks slightly, my little Geo Storm lost its grip on the road and spent out of control. I was headed south on the road initially, after the spin out, I was headed north and at a full stop. Given it was a hill, that I was now at the bottom of, a car could have easily rear ended my as they wouldn’t have had enough time to recognize my stopped car, and brake. I gathered myself as I stood still at the bottom of the hill, gently hit the gas, thanked my lucky stars, and proceeded to my father’s house.

What You Should Know

Fortunately, I experienced this lesson early in my driving career and it didn’t cause too much damage. That said, it provided enough trauma that it continues to influence my driving today. For me, my largest driving risk isn’t driving while intoxicated, or distracted, but driving while drowsy. Whether its early in the morning, or late in the day, I make sure I’m supported with either caffeine, a driving buddy, or that I have scheduled stops for rest. Drowsiness is not often mentioned during accidents, perhaps because it’s hard to diagnose. This certainly does not mean it should receive any less attention than the other bad influencers of driving. It seems small, but make sure you’re physically up for your next drive. It’s a lesson that can increase your awareness and prevent any future accidents. Safe driving!

About Dale Williams

Dale Q. Williams, MBA, is a well-respected financial executive whose experience spans from insurance to investment banking. Dale has first hand underwriting experience through working for one of the largest U.S. based insurance carriers, and advisory experience from working for several bulge-bracket and middle-market investment banks. Dale also received his MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business, with concentrations in finance and accounting.