A can of pure oxygen may, at first thought, seem like an odd thing to keep in the glove box of your car.
However, it could play a key role in helping to keep you safe on long journeys.
Driver tiredness is one of the major causes of road accidents and, as crashes involving a motorist who has fallen asleep are 50 per cent more likely to be fatal, it is simple common sense to do everything possible to ensure you stay alert behind the wheel.
As well as traditional methods, such as taking regular breaks and drinking coffee, you can also carry portable oxygen in your vehicle.
Inhaling the gas in a pure form can help to boost your energy levels and alleviate tiredness, which could be just the pick-me-up you need if you feel your concentration drifting while on the road.
How Many Road Accidents Are Caused by Driver Tiredness?
It is impossible to say exactly how many crashes are caused by fatigued motorists, but the Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimates tiredness and drowsy driving is a factor in up to a fifth of all smashes.
Safety experts also believe sleep-related collisions are 50 per cent more likely to result in a fatality or serious injury, as a driver who is asleep is unable to brake or swerve before the point of impact.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is a factor in more than 100,000 crashes a year which result in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths and 12.5 billion monetary losses annually in the US.
It is not only injury to yourself you have to worry about, as there is also the possibility of hurting or even killing another road user.
Should you be involved in an accident after falling asleep at the wheel, you will almost certainly face prosecution and could end up in prison.
Why Do So Many Sleep-Related Accidents Happen?
A study by the road safety charity Brake found that one in ten business motorists have fallen asleep while driving.
Most of those people will have experienced a ‘microsleep’, where they drift off for between two and 30 seconds while they are feeling tired and making a real effort to stay awake.
Nodding off for just a few seconds while travelling at 70 mph on a motorway will mean you are out of control for long enough to drive across other lanes of traffic without realizing it.
You do not actually have to fall asleep for your driving to be adversely affected, as feeling sleepy will also reduce your alertness and concentration levels, meaning your reaction times will rise sharply.
Studies show that company car drivers, shift workers and young males are most at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
There are other factors to watch out for, such as taking to the road after a long day at work, undertaking a long motorway journey, travelling after midnight or straight after eating lunch.
How Can You Minimize Your Risk of a Sleep-Related Crash?
Perhaps, the most important step you can take to avoid being involved in a fatigue-related crash is not to set off if you already feel tired.
Delaying your journey to have some rest may be a little inconvenient, but nowhere near as problematic as a collision.
Similarly, you should plan long trips so that you do not need to undertake them between midnight and 6 am, as your concentration levels are naturally lower at that time of day.
You should also ensure you allow enough time to take regular breaks during your journey.
During these stops – you should aim to take a 15-minute rest every two hours – you can either fill your time by having a snooze or a cup of coffee, as either will help you to feel more alert when you get back on the road.
You could also use the stop to take a few breaths of pure oxygen from a can, as this will have a positive and immediate impact on your concentration and energy levels.
Have you ever heard of portable oxygen or tried to use it? How do you prevent drowsy driving?
What do you think about using pure oxygen therapy to boost your energy levels?
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