Driving While Sleepy – Not Advisable

In Season 2 Episode 24 of Grey’s Anatomy, an overworked intern (played by John Cho) falls asleep at the wheel, lets his car drift into oncoming traffic and causes a massive accident which leads to severe injuries and at least one death.

It strikes a cord because the risk is very real.

Somebody dozed off at the wheel yesterday. Some car damage happened, but waking on impact (and passenger’s cries of ‘Somebody!’) he steered the car away from the other side of the road. There was thankfully little traffic at the time.

A teammate who was on antihistamines for a cold. He was driving from Woodlands (north of Singapore) to Kallang (south-east of Singapore) for training. Antihistamines cause drowsiness. Said teammate fell asleep, drifted to the right of the road on the expressway and was awoken by the sound of the car scraping against the safety barrier. No injuries.

A house officer (the equivalent of an intern) friend was post-call and driving home. Next thing he knew was that he had totaled his car. The judicious use of the seatbelt and the car’s airbag system saved him from injury.

In retrospect, taking a nap at the studio combined with a good stiff dose of coffee ($1.50) might have saved a good grand in car damage, loss of time (2hrs) and loss of vehicular use.

For more information, here’s a couple of sites:
Driving Under The Influence of Sleep – Keely Cheslack-Postava
Alcohol and Sleep – National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

What is worth noting in the second article is this:
“The adverse effects of sleep deprivation are increased following alcohol consumption. Subjects administered low doses of alcohol following a night of reduced sleep perform poorly in a driving simulator, even with no alcohol left in the body.”

Have a safe 2007.


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