Exploring the Links Between Health And Safe Driving

car driver

Other than injuries sustained directly from auto accidents, driving can take a toll on your body and mental health in a number of ways. In turn your current state of health can greatly affect your driving which could lead to an auto accident.


Even if your job doesnít require countless hours of driving day in and day out, your health and safety are of concern during your daily commute. Precaution can save you a world of hurt and protect the lives of everyone on the road with you.


This is the reason behind one of the latest technological developments in the automotive industry that may soon be available to consumers.

Research headed by engineers at Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) and the BMW Group in Germany recently developed an in-car sensor system that can monitor your health while you drive. The main goal being that through these sensors the car can keep track of your vital signs and initiate emergency responses for the safety of all.

Sensors located on the steering wheel use infrared light and skin contact to take a variety of measures from heart rate and blood pressure to stress level. Readings are sent to the computer system installed in the dashboard to alert the driver and vehicle when an unsafe health situation happens.

Researchers hope to automate emergency car functions such as lowering speed, blocking phone calls, turning down the radio volume, and initiating hazard lights if a personís health condition is significant enough to be dangerous. An example would be when vital signs indicate the onset of a heart attack; the vehicle could take action by using hazard lights and lowering speed so the driver can pull over for help and avoid a potentially fatal car accident.

Since this is still technology in the works, drivers today can learn about the health risk factors when behind the wheel to keep themselves, passengers, and fellow drivers safe.

Health Factors That Affect Driving Safely:

Illness

Whether itís the common cold or something more, fatigue can set in as your bodyís energy resources are focused on fighting your illness. Fatigue can cause muscles aches, cramps, insomnia, and the inability to focus on the road and cars around you. Also some medication causes drowsiness, so be sure to avoid taking any before driving or wait until it is out of your system.

Eye Strain

Hopefully if you require corrective lenses to see clearly, then you wear them as you drive. However, itís not uncommon for people to experience eye strain after a long day of work. Usually this is caused by activities needing constant visual attention such as working at a computer. It can lead to pain, headaches, blurred vision, and even double vision. Itís recommended to look away for five to ten minutes every hour to avoid strain which can affect your alertness on the road later.

Emotions

When under a lot of stress from work or personal life, emotions can easily run high and take your attention away from driving. Studies have shown that our brains are not as good at multitasking as we think. In order to prevent fender benders or worse, why not give yourself a pep talk before turning on the ignition? Your job is to drive safely now and forget about the rest. If you canít, then find something else to do or call a friend until youíre ready.

Driving Factors That Affect Health:

Blood Clots

Sitting for a prolonged period of time has been known to cause dangerous blood clots in some. Medically itís referred to as deep vein thrombosis when a clot forms, usually in the leg. You may feel leg pain, but often there are no symptoms. If the clot is dislodged and travels to the lungs, it could cause a pulmonary embolism which can be fatal. The best way to avoid DVT is to exercise your lower body regularly and make sure to get enough Vitamin K from eating leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach.

Highway Hypnosis

Have you ever taken a road trip and then suddenly realized you canít remember the last several minutes driving? You may have been hypnotized by the road. This condition occurs when youíve had a fixed gaze on the road ahead for awhile. Some people become so entranced they fall asleep at the wheel, but even while awake the altered state of mind reduces your level of awareness and can put you at risk. Loud music or stopping to take a break and walk around can help you prevent hypnosis.

Road Rage

Take it easy when driving. Getting angry at other drivers for perceived wrongs usually stem from the feeling that theyíre putting you in danger of an accident they caused with risky driving. However, yelling and making rude hand gestures does nothing but fuel your heightened emotional state and takes your own concentration off driving safely. We all make mistakes from time to time. Keep calm by letting go of the anger when someone accidentally changes lanes too close for comfort or didnít see you in their blind spot. The last thing you, or others, need is another risky driver on the road trying to make a point to someone who offended them.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month to educate the public about ways to avoid accidents by simply concentrating on safe driving. Nowadays, itís cell phone usage increasing the number of auto accidents, but your health can be just as distracting. Be aware of how youíre feeling and know the signs to take a break for a few minutes to stay safe on the road.

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