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Old 21st December 2016, 10:07   #31
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Excellent thread! Thanks for sharing.

I had this experience a few years back on a long drive from Thrissur to Kollur; luckily I could feel the lack of concentration and it was at a heavily potholed stretch somewhere near Mangalore. Even on super low speeds, the fatigue due to lack of sleep was so evident. Took a full hour break, and then continued with the journey, with sufficient breaks in between.

My BIL(driving the second car) was not in favour of taking so many breaks in between, and I remember telling him “you maybe an expert driver, but you need to stay alive to show your abilities”
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Old 21st December 2016, 10:10   #32
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Excellent thread!

As per the data available with Kerala state police, most fatal accidents that happen at night occur between 1.30 A.M and 4.30 A.M and most fatal accidents that happen in the morning occur between 1.30 P.M and 3.30 P.M.
While I'm no expert in the reasons behind this, I guess the reason behind accidents at night during the said time may be due to the reason that most people get the deepest sleep around that time .

And for the afternoon accident, immediately after a meal, there is redistribution of blood supply to the abdominal area to help in digestion and the amount of blood supply to brain is reduced. So if we take a heavy meal, there is chance of increased drowsiness.

Earlier I used to drive a lot at these times, but from past 5 years, I haven't driven between 1 A.M and 5.30 AM, and I take as light a lunch as possible if I'm going for a drive in the afternoon times.

Be very very careful about taking Cough Syrups and antihistamines before a drive and if you are taking some new medications make sure they have no sedative properties.
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Old 21st December 2016, 11:01   #33
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Once again, a FANTASTIC thread by GTO. Thanks for detailing on "what not to do" for a long drive/ tired driving.

Let me share my not so good experiences,

1. Some time in Oct 2007, a trip was planned from Alwar - Panipat - Alwar starting from 2:00 pm in a '98 M 800 to attend another colleagues wedding. On the way plans changed to attend one more wedding in Delhi ( Idea was to have dinner there). My other three colleagues were out of their senses post the Dinner. So was driving all alone and reached Panipat by 12:00 mid night and started back by 2:00 am. Was okay till 4:00 am as I am a teetotaler and also had very light dinner(missed the Wedding Dinner a lot though).
I was easily spotting few of those half a sleep drivers in trucks and tempos. At around 6:00 am in the morning, I too started behaving like one of them.
Realized this only after narrowly escaping an on coming truck in opposite direction after closing my eyes for a matter of 5 secs. God helped and was able to control the vehicle like a movie stunt and stopped some 5 feet off the road.
Luckily, there was nothing obstructing and no damage to anyone as I was doing around 60 kmph due to light fog.

Quickly washed my face and made 4~5 rounds around the vehicle and below to check for damages if any. Even then, none of my three pals woke up!

That experience made me to Vow myself, NO more driving after midnight. No matter what.

2. Again some time in May 2013, was driving back from Vizag to Hyderabad in a Manza along with family, after attending a wedding. Plan was to start by 12:00 noon and reach Hyderabad by 11:00 pm latest.
Unfortunately, got stuck in a jam due to Telengana agitation( Supporting no separation in Vizag border it self) and started only by 3:30 pm.
Later, one more snarl for another 2 hrs after crossing Vijayawada as Police were controlling the flow of traffic to protect the private buses and allowing in a phased manner. Started feeling drowsy as wedding was early in the morning the previous day and din't have that day's complete sleep.
So parked on a under construction closed road, off the main road by 30 mtrs, but visible to everyone going on the road. Had a good power nap for an hour and half. Woke up, had hot tea and resumed the journey by 4:00am to reach Hyd safely.
Family was like seeing me taking a power nap.

Better safe than sorry!

I always advocate, not to drive after dark to many of my friends / relatives. I some urgency comes and you are forced to, pls plan to ensure you reach your destination before the date changes.

Chewing gums do help a lot. In addition to them, I have home made savories made from Red berries along with lot of spices, to keep me awake even after a heavy lunch. They do wonders, in a natural way as well.
I also repeatedly listen to '2000 Watts' by MJ in full blast mode if required.

Drive Safe.

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Old 21st December 2016, 11:27   #34
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Great thread highlighting a critical issue that was never discussed adequately.

Sleep is indeed the most important factor that affects performance. We can see the effect of sleep deprivation in all aspects of our lives, not just in driving. There is a world of difference in the decisions we take when we are fatigued and when we are fresh. Many times, it is the difference between winning and losing. You can see this subject discussed extensively in flight safety magazines.

The Indian RTA has not adequately addressed this issue. While it is difficult to monitor and control private individuals, surely RTA can do something when it comes to the transportation industries.

I read somewhere that in Australia, all long distance bus and truck drivers are required to carry a log book. There are bays for resting along all highways. All the truck and bus drivers are required to get their log books stamped with the time and date at the beginning of their journey. After every three hours or so, they are required to pull into one of these rest areas and their log books are again stamped with the time and date. They have to rest for the designated time period and get their log books stamped again when they resume their journey. Thus the log books carry a record of their driving and resting hours. Their log books are checked regularly. If any of them are found driving for longer periods without rest, legal action will be taken against them. It shows the importance of adequate rest for safe long distance driving.

I don't know if it is possible to implement this in India, but it will definitely help if it is.

Last edited by Enobarbus : 21st December 2016 at 11:37.
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Old 21st December 2016, 11:41   #35
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Scary stories but these need to be told. Here's the scariest one of them all.

You get your full night's sleep. You start at a reasonable hour. You have fast paced music playing. The temperature in the car is set a little lower than is comfortable for a snooze. Your trusted partner who NEVER dozes off on long drives is in her place next to you. You've planned it such that you don't drive too long without a break.

And thing you know, you WAKE UP on a long straight expressway doing 100 while drifting oh so slightly across lanes.

I have no recollection of falling asleep. All I remember is some part of me screaming: your hands are on the wheel...OPEN YOUR EYES. Instinctively swerved the wheel back dead centre and jammed on the brakes. Luckily nobody around either ahead or behind me.

Heart racing, steady myself and pull into the next rest stop. As calmly as I can, tell my wife to take over. She is scared too but doesn't want to freak out the kids. I sit in the passenger seat, spent, but sleep won't come. Rest of the journey happens in absolute silence.

It was probably the hydration. I didn't drink enough water and that caused some lethargy that doing everything else right almost undid. I don't know and neither can you.

So be careful. Out of all the ways to die, falling asleep at the wheel seems the most futile.
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Old 21st December 2016, 12:03   #36
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Though I am a big fan of night driving, I will keep coming back to this thread as a reminder on hazards of continuous long distance driving.
Another major issue of night driving is the large number of sleepy drivers & drunks around you. Even if you are fresh, they can be dangerous to you.

Originally Posted by ike View Post
The added trouble is that I work on this shift for 2 weeks in a month and revert to regular timings for the remainder of the month(1200 Hrs to 2100 Hrs), I think my body clock is getting confused
You're in a risky position for long-distance driving, buddy. Only thing I can suggest is drive after a healthy 7 - 8 hours of sleep, and keep a co-driver with you.
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Old 21st December 2016, 12:34   #37
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Most needed thread to create awareness and to make others cautious.

I have always been on long drives covering 8-12 hrs.Most of them covering all alone. So, i make few important reminders and prepare myself before the drive:
  1. Try not to get involved in any major thoughts related to work/life/relationships/finance.
  2. Do not get irritated with the discussions other passengers do.
  3. Stay calm and do not head to loose out your patience on road.
  4. If you feel that you are thinking about sleep,enjoy the music and try to sing along with it(Sometimes, even i tap my fingers on steering).

Although, i am a big fan of night driving it makes me really worried of others being on correct path. But yes, night driving with deprived sleep has always been a ticking time bomb.

Thanks GTO for sharing and kudos for your efforts!!
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Old 21st December 2016, 12:53   #38
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

This thread is a godsend for me. I have been guilty in the past of putting mine and others lives in danger due to over confidence on my abilities. I had decided sometime ago no driving more than 7 hrs a day and more than 2 hrs at a stretch without stopping. Reading this thread the decision is cemented.

I am not sure if I am correctly stating this, but if I remember right, one of my profs said that when too much information is forced on to the brain while body is still, it induces a state of hypnosis. He then said driving is such a situation. Where our brain is perceiving multiple things at the same time, while body is physically at rest and thus was one of the more likely cases, when we can enter a state of hypnosis. He was a nutcase though. Very highly IQ chap. And ofcourse, he always walked/ cycled to get around and wouldn't sit in a car.
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Old 21st December 2016, 12:59   #39
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

A very interesting thread! We need more discussions on this topic.
Here is what I do to avoid sleeping behind the wheel, I hope it helps someone-

• As a rule I don’t drive on highways after sun down so I plan all my trips in a way that I reach my destination in daylight
• If I am leaving early in the morning, I make sure that at max I have only a 45 min drive before the sun comes up
• The temperature inside the car is always a degree or two away from ideal
• Play only rock on the stereo. You can’t sleep to AC/DC
• For all my smoker friends, a cigarette will help. Get down to smoke and use the opportunity to stretch
• Instead of Red Bull, a bottle of Gatorade is more effective
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Old 21st December 2016, 13:07   #40
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Its my firm belief that if anyone needs an aid to stay awake, then they should stop and sleep.

Everything is just a placebo. It lulls the person into believing that they are awake and alert.
  1. I use a couple of simple tests to constantly check my alertness levels.
  2. I try and think up new interesting recipes, software programs. Anything that needs analytical thinking.
  3. I love Ghazals and remember most of the lyrics. So I sing along. But I can only do this when travelling alone because neither my wife nor my kids like this kind of music.
  4. I must remember exactly how many kilometers have been covered. If I am wrong by even 5-10 kilometers, I become very wary.

If I am not sure about even one of these, I stop and relax inside the car itself.
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Old 21st December 2016, 13:59   #41
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

A very fine subject for discussion and awareness, GTO. Thanks for bringing it in.

I have been driving for last 16 years; both in our chaotic and lawless roads, and in some highly disciplined conditions abroad. I think, I understand my body petty well too (a very important aspect), as I do workout religiously. Here are my few cents (learnings instead) from all these years of driving:

- AVOID driving in the night, unless that is the only option left. There are tricky situations on all the roads, across every part of the world. Simply put, night driving is EXTREMELY risky.
- Maintain the lowest speed possible/allowed, If you must drive in the night. Occupy the slowest lane, so that you don’t cause inconvenience to other drivers and end up in a nasty situation.
- Know your body and be true to self. If you generally doze off after a meal/dinner, or you feel exhausted after a stretch of work, then do NOT dare (the oh-I-can-do-it feeling) any further. It is better to respect your own body and let it have the rest it demands.
- Take breaks at regular intervals. STRETCH every time and as much as possible. Nothing relaxes your muscles, joints and thereby your mind, as much as stretching does. A little bit of pain will always wake your mind up.
- Keep talking to your co-passengers. Listening to music alone won't help. I normally keep singing (with the music on) if I don’t get anyone to talk.
- Carry enough BLACK coffee in a thermo flask, if you are on a long drive in India. You may not get that everywhere, along the way. Keep sipping.
- Carry a few Red Bulls (if you can't stand black coffee or you need an additional soft option), as they contain enough caffeine to smart up your senses.
- Drink virgin coconut water as in when you get a chance and feel thirsty. Virgin coconut water is called 'Nature's sports drink" and is one of the richest source of Potassium. Potassium intake will help relax your cramping muscles (normally due to dehydration). If you want a backup option, carry a few bottles of Gatorades.
- If you have Gastric or Acidity problems, help yourself with a Rabeprazole Sodium capsule (just a suggestion btw, as I take them. But I am not a doctor and this is not a prescription) in the morning (in empty stomach). Take it before you set off in your long drive, as excess gas and acidity can invite drowsiness.
- Avoid taking any anti-allergic tablet (LevoCetrizine for an example.), even 8-10 hours before you start driving. Their effect last up to 24 hours !
- Avoid taking any other medicine you know, which causes drowsiness (cold medicines usually do)
- Stay ALERT all the time and Keep your eyes OPEN
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Old 21st December 2016, 14:03   #42
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Very useful thread indeed.

I agree with most of what is being said here but I have a problem:
The night before the long drive, I get so excited that I can not sleep
But, then checked to see that many others that come on our overnighter drives have the same problem.

I follow these:
1. Play some melodious music [kishore, Rafi, Mukesh etc.,] and sing along. If I can't sleep, nobody else in the car can
2. Keep drinking a lot of water to keep the hydration levels high [which will force you to take breaks anyway]
3. Keep calculating the mileage, average speed etc., just to keep the brain engaged on some easy tasks.
4. Engage in some discussions, some mild arguments that doesn't hurt so that it keeps you excited and keeps you awake. [Just pick a fight with your wife and you are at your destination before you know... Just kidding]
5. Keep munching some low calorie foods and low sugar drinks

After all these, on my recent trip, I tested the Attention assist on my car. Well, the test case passed, so to say.
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Old 21st December 2016, 14:09   #43
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

It was 4-5 years back, me and my wife started from Chitkul (HP) and the decision was to halt at Narkanda. We reached Narkanda around 4pm but after spending just half an hour there we decided to cut short our holiday and reach Delhi the same night.

At 4:30 pm I was high on energy, I thought I could easily do the remaining 8 hours to Delhi. By the time we passed Shimla I started getting tired. With mountain roads gone, I was looking at straight roads with nothing much to keep in awake except for traffic. The traffic was abundant which is why I managed another 3 hours.

However, the last one hour on the highway was just unmanageable. My wife had dozed off, I had a loud ICE in my previous car, turned it to 80-90% and decided to carry on. Stopped a few times to splash cold water on my face but the stretch was such that I just couldn't stop. I entered Delhi and the last 30 mins were again a little more manageable with traffic on roads.

Next morning I realized that while I'd made it all ok, I didn't remember most of my drive, the last hour on the highway I mean. It was enough to tell me to not do it ever again.

Then around 2-3 years back I decided to do Delhi-Jaisalmer in one day. It was an 800 km drive and I clearly remember that after driving for about an hour post lunch I started feeling drowsy. Unlike mountain driving straight roads may get boring and that's what happened. The stretch was such that there wasn't any hotel for a while. I asked my wife to keep a watch around while I took a 10 min nap. Since I had no choice but to park besides the highway, I decided to do it ahead of a big tree so that no vehicle bangs into mine.

Since then, I've made sure that I don't plan any drives after 6pm. If I'm feeling drowsy I simply halt and take a nap. I learnt this lesson without getting into trouble and have been very cautious when planning an impromptu trip.

I know a few guys who boast of making an impromptu plan and driving to the hills overnight but those guys are more stupid than adventurous. Driving is a responsibility, shouldn't be taken lightly at all!
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Old 21st December 2016, 14:22   #44
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Another major issue of night driving is the large number of sleepy drivers & drunks around you. Even if you are fresh, they can be dangerous to you.
Once I was a witness to this fact myself.
We had gone to Kumbakonam and the areas around for temple visits. During this time, my son fell ill, and didn't wanting to continue to trip, we returned back hurriedly. So, we started from there at 17:00 aiming to reach home (Coimbatore) by night.
Somewhere midway, I saw an M800 in the mirror speeding towards me. He was trying to overtake me from the right, while I was already in the rightmost lane! First it was amusing for me, then in a split second, I realized he might be drunk or sleeping and would not have noticed me. I very quickly moved towards left - thankfully no vehicles were in the middle lane.
I guess he got alarmed at the last moment as well, and tried to move towards left, trying to avoid hitting the median.
But his car landed straight into the median, and when the car came back to road, he was alright, but car wouldn't start. He called some of his friends for rescue.
Out of all this, no damages for us - just we were just panic struck. Later after a mile or two, we found a place to have tea and relax for 15 minutes & continued our journey.
OT: We reached home at 23:30 the same day, and the very next day we got our son admitted to a hospital for a week. I thanked my stars for taking the right decision to cut short the trip and traveling back home, and also for coming out safe in the above mishap.
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Old 21st December 2016, 14:28   #45
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Re: Drowsiness & Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads

Sharing an experience(or two) of mine:
1)This was a few years ago, I had just been given my first scooter (Honda Dio) and I had less than 3000 Km of riding experience and zero night riding experience.
Back then we has this weird fascination with the Sunday morning CCD-Madduru rides.
We set off to CCD-Madduru at 1200Hrs, Sunday Morning from Bengaluru and with the 'josh' of a night out, (I had told my parents that I'd be sleeping over at my friend's place under the supervision of his parents) made it to CCD a couple of hours later.
There were three vehicles (two scooters and one bike) and six of us.
We were chatting and spent close to two hours awake. By this time I was already drowsy, I was imagining my bed, the soft pillow, the warm blanket all inside the coffee shop.
We set out by 0430Hrs and halfway through the journey, my pillion had fallen asleep on my back, the traffic was sparse and I too slowly began the journey into my cozy bed(inside my head) and dozed off for a fraction of a second on Mysuru Road, I was on the slow lane and had drifted into the shoulder which was covered with sand. The sudden left move(the height difference between the tarmac end and beginning of shoulder) which felt like the vehicle being pushed into the gravel, woke me up and I somehow got the vehicle back on to the road.
This was noticed by my friend riding behind my scooter and he asked me to switch with my (now sound asleep) pillion.
A dozen or so kilometers down the line, the trend had reversed. I was sound asleep on my friend's back, he also dozed off and we were already doing close to 70Km/H and a lorry was in the process of doing a U Turn right in front!
Fortunately for us, a car that was in the next lane, just a meter or two behind us honked profusely which woke us up and we managed to avoid being roadkill.
We laughed it off, but I have never taken my scooter/bike out on long night rides since.
2)I had devised a method to keep my eyes on the road when driving after limited sleep: I made sure that I overdrink water so that I'll be busy searching for a place to pull over and pee, while simultaneously driving ahead.Very uncomfortable but I could concentrate much more.
But on another Night out and the other two occupants were fast asleep, I was continuing with my drive using my above described method and thought that I could somehow get back home and into my cozy bed and a second later I was asleep and doing 50Km/H on Mysuru Road. And as fate would have it, the authorities had removed those big road humps and replaced it with barricades. I woke up a few meters before the barricade and swerved right(without checking, but fortunately it was clear) but the front left of the car had made contact at full speed and I ended up spending close to 50000INR on repairs.
I was shell shocked! My hands and legs were shaking uncontrollably on the way back and I was sweating (Temp inside the cabin was a cool 19DegCel) profusely.
I have never tried to "outsmart" sleep since.
I pull over, take a nice long nap, wake up and get out for some stretching and then I get back behind the wheel.
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