Written by Jennifer Reiley
As the end of the semester approaches, one hurdle stands before students and Christmas break—finals. And just like high school, it seems like professors plot amongst themselves to schedule multiple tests for one day. Studying/cramming for finals means a lot of late nights. If you live off campus, you probably won’t be driving home until well after dark. This presents a problem, as driving at night, especially when tired, is one of the top five risks young drivers face.
Your field of vision is reduced at night, so it’s harder to see objects like animals or road signs. I remember one time when I didn’t see a deer on the side of the road until I was five feet away. Lucky for me, he had the sense not to run out onto the highway.
Lack of sleep is also a danger when driving at night. Staying awake for 20 hours can have the same effect on a driver as alcohol. Fatigue increases reaction time, meaning that it takes more time for your brain to tell your foot to brake, which can make a big difference, especially when visibility is reduced.
Obviously, everyone has to drive at night sometime, and with finals, students will likely be driving off campus after pulling an all-nighter at the library. Fortunately, there are ways to stay safe and alert on the road. Take along a friend when you study so you have someone to keep you awake on the ride home. If you know you’re lacking sleep, be mindful of signs that you may be too tired to drive. If you have trouble focusing, can’t remember the last few miles, have trouble keeping your head up or can’t stay in your lane, pull off the road immediately. Stop at a gas station to get coffee or take a brief nap to rejuvenate.
The amount of sleep we give up for studying or for other activities is sometimes out of our control. What we can control, however, are the extra steps that can be taken to keep ourselves safe on the roads after dark.