Posted by: Admin | February 20, 2011

Warning Signs

The blog didn’t appear yesterday because I was helping daughter no 1 and her partner to move out of London to a new town. This entailed a good few hours of driving, a little lifting and carrying (I have my limits!) and a fair amount of tea drinking. Seriously, coming on top of some of my recent travels, I was severely pooped. I considered booking into a local motel before tackling the drive home, but funds were tight and the sofa, surrounded as it was by daughter’s life in carrier bags, was not appealing.

I don’t drink and drive. The sign above does not apply. Last night, however, I did something that was potentially just as lethal – I drove tired. My eyes were aching half an hour into the journey and it wasn’t long before the lights of the cars ahead were shaking. I tried opening the windows, playing music etc, but these manoeuvres had only a temporary effect. The problem with tiredness is that you don’t realise that you’re falling asleep – until you hit another car, or, as in my case, the rumble strips at the side of the road.

We just don’t tend to view driving tired as being as dangerous as driving drunk, perhaps seeing it as a matter of stamina rather than irresponsibility. Yet when it comes to drunk driving, once someone has a blood alcohol level over .08, they are considered legally drunk. Studies have shown that a driver who has gone a day without sleep is very similar to a driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.10%, well above the legal limit. (Source: Sleepdex).  According to the Highways Agency, an estimated 300 people a year die in the UK due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. They recommend that 15 minute breaks should be taken every two hours when driving long distances, day or night, whether you feel tired or not. A recent report, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, recommends no more than 2 hours driving at night for optimum safety.

All I can say is: thank goodness for rumble strips. I pulled into the next layby, switched off the engine and rested my eyes for a good fifteen minutes. In future, I will always make sure I have the funds available to book into a motel if I’m too tired to drive. I know I’m lucky to have learned my lesson without hurting myself or others. Today is going to be a duvet day.

a timely reminder






  1. You are so right. People definitely have different alcohol tolerances, but if you fall asleep, it doesn’t matter if 6’8″ with half a shandy inside you or 5′ 1″ with a bottle of wine. I have fallen asleep at the wheel before now, and it’s the most terrifying thing. Good advice indeed.

  2. I attribute living to this ripe old age to 1. not being ashamed to sleep under a friends coffee table when late or drinking, 2. pulling over and sleeping when the heavy eyelids first start. How I managed to live until I started doing that I attribute to good luck. I can not say that I have not broken those rules since first applying them but it has not been often or recent. The real eye opener was when I ran my 40 ton truck off on to the shoulder on the wrong side of the highway and very nearly laid the trailer in the ditch. Your post brought back those unpleasant and terrifying memories.
    Looking back over my life of mistakes and chance taking I wonder how humans ever grow to be adults.

  3. By the way. Excellent choice of photos for this post.

  4. Thanks for your comments. I have another week of heavy driving ahead, but I won’t be making that mistake again. Terrifying is the word.

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