Posted by: safedriver | May 27, 2012

Are ‘morning people’ better drivers?

Over the years I’ve learned to become a morning person. It didn’t start out that way, but since I wanted to do more things in the evening, I realized I should start teaching in-car lessons earlier in the day. I like the mornings now as the air is fresh, the sounds of spring and summer are great to wake up to and you get the rest of the day ahead of you. Ok, I know I’ve probably already annoyed some of you non-morning types. What about those who really hate mornings? I know people who would enjoy mornings if mornings started after noon. I was once accused of stirring my coffee too loud in the mornings by a non-morning person. What if those people had to drive during the times when they just were not too awake? How risky would their morning drive to work be?

I was speaking to a group of students that I was teaching in class at Young Drivers of Canada and a few of the students were saying how they need at least an hour to an hour and a half to wake up in the morning. That’s a normal day as you make your way through the house having breakfast, showering, getting dressed and anything else that needs to be done before heading off to school or work. But is that acceptable if you’re about to drive?

Someone I spoke to says they start work early and need an hour by themselves to really wake up before dealing with other people. What about their drive to work? They aren’t the only people on the roads, so how good would their driving decisions be if they aren’t really awake? Would they even remember what they did on their way to work? Did they run a red light or stop sign? Did they cut drivers off doing lane changes? Were they speeding? These are all major risks associated to driving and being mentally awake is important before doing anything with risks.

Personally, even though I enjoy the morning, I need about 10 or 15 minutes to really wake up. Coffee, moving around a bit, talking to my kids and at least a quick wash up will get me going in the mornings. But what if you need more time than that? What can you do to get your brain awake before getting to the car?

One of the suggestions is to read the morning newspaper; whether it’s actually paper or online makes no real difference. Reading the news stimulates your brain to wake up. Conversation in the morning also helps. Try to find someone other than yourself to talk to though. You’ll need something interesting to talk about and not the same topic as every other day.

I’ve heard how some people will have their coffee, turn the music up and either put on the air conditioning or roll the windows down while heading off to work to wake them up. That’s not the right answer considering you really need to be mentally awake and alert the moment you get behind the steering wheel. Something may happen just around the corner that needs your attention as a driver. If you’re still sleepy or dopey, and I’m not talking about Snow White’s friends, then you probably won’t be able to respond quickly enough or accurately enough to solve the problem.

This is a new way of life to some drivers. Make the plan and the changes as necessary to awaken your brain the night before. Do whatever it takes to ensure you’re physically and mentally awake before you go-go.

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