Drowsy Daydreaming Drivers - Zombies on the Road

Where am I?

It’s early in the morning and you are driving to work on a long stretch of road, alone in your vehicle, maybe even listening to music. Then it happens, you are almost to work and you cannot remember how you got there. Sure, you have taken the same route every day, but maybe that is the problem. Maybe you have conditioned yourself to be on autopilot on this route that you cannot distinctly remember the condition in which it happened. However, you remember that you were thinking about standing up to your overbearing co-worker, what it would be like to be the next celebutante superhero in an upcoming film, or what it would be like to be in Hawaii right now. Yes, you were daydreaming and you may not have even realized that you were.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, daydreaming while driving is just as bad, if not, more so than texting and driving. Studies have shown that even looking to press the button on your radio immediately increases the risk of an accident. Other studies implicate that the frequency of these habits exponentially increase the risk of a potential accident. In addition, not being fully alert during these moments on the road can also add to the ever increasing factors for unsafe driving.

How do I stop being a zombie?

So, what do you do when you (hopefully) catch yourself daydreaming while driving? Well you should NOT honk the horn to wake yourself up from your mind-blowing cinematic trance. You should, however, take these steps into consideration:

  1. Pull over. Pulling over creates a different mindset and enables your mind to refocus on getting yourself to safety as you cross traffic. When you do, feel free to jump up and down, shake it all about, and re-energize your body.
  2. Change lanes. When you change lanes, you are critically analyzing traffic patterns so you can maneuver safely on the road. You have to physically look and focus on who is around you before you do it. Careful, though, because changing lanes too often will get you pulled over for suspected drunk driving!
  3. Yell something out loud. Yes, yell out your favorite mantra, how awesome your life is, or who your crush might be. Yelling engages your mind (and ears) and can help reset your focus. Just don’t yell out something that could make the car next to you give you an unwanted gesture.
  4. Take a different route. Changing your route is ultimately one of the best ways to deter daydreaming. You are unaware of your surroundings and therefore you are more focused and engaged on how to reach your destination.
  5. Fulfill your destiny. Once you have completed a task, your mind will instantly try to put it aside and move on to the next one. So, if you cannot stop daydreaming about being the next Jackie Chan, then by all means start studying marital arts and get an agent. If this does not seem possible, then you’re back to steps 1-4.

Social Responsibility

So, what’s the reason we daydream while we are driving? Why don’t we daydream more often when we are not driving? Is it to fulfill some desperate need of basking in glory or do we need more appreciation and attention in our lives and the drive to work is the only time we have available to think about it? All these questions are not easily answered because we all have different needs as individuals, but the important part about all of this is to not to turn into a zombie while operating heavy machinery. This is part of a person’s social responsibility to ensure that you are not putting others at risk because you are having psychological issues. Even telling yourself, before you start the car in the morning, that you will not daydream while on the road can help you focus and get to and from your destination safely.

We often forget about the people around us and can greatly increase their chances of an accident as well. This is one of the reasons why emergency vehicles have flashing lights, instead of constant ones, and why the decibel level of the emergency horns are much louder than those on other vehicles. They are meant to be heard and seen from far away by conscious drivers. Don't be "that guy" who failed to pull over to the side of the road because he was so lost in thought, and caused a horrific accident.

More Dangerous than Cellphones!

The dangers of daydreaming while driving are ever increasing and data from the National Highway Safety Administration show that 62% of all fatal accidents are due to inattentive driving, which is five times more than if you were using your cellphone while driving. Turning the autopilot on should be left to pilots in the air!

Drowsy Times Ahead

Being drowsy and fatigued can also attribute to vehicular accidents. More and more people are becoming less and less of a "morning person" and getting less and less sleep. However, other factors contribute to being drowsy as well:

  • poor diet
  • low water intake
  • vitamin d deficiencies
  • stress
  • medical issues

It's important to monitor these other factors and take measures to avoid them and decrease the risk of unsafe driving. A few ways to help with drowsiness is to:

  • revamp your diet
  • drink more water, at least 8 glasses a day!
  • get some sun
  • get some exercise
  • see a doctor
  • eat an apple; beats lethargy like nobody's business!
  • watch a funny video before getting in the car
  • remind yourself that you have other people's lives in your hands
  • smell a refreshing orange scent before you walk out the door

Taking preventative measures will help make you a better defensive driver and stop the zombie attacks on your brain!

Where do I rank?

Ranking% of all accidents
1> 50%
23% - 25%
Alcohol Related
< 3%
Information was pulled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On the Road Again

Daydreaming is fun to do, but not when you are six hours shy of a full night's sleep and driving a half-ton pickup to work on the longest drive of your life. The Department of Motor Vehicles gave you a license because you proved you understood the rules of the road and acknowledged the responsibility of driving. So leave the "wish I could have..." thoughts at home or in your journal, drink a cup of Joe, and take a different way to and from work. You and other drivers around you will be glad you did!