Thunder Roads Magazine MO/So. IL 2018-April - Page 16

Safety FIRST ZZZZZ, Crash, Bang, Boom, Ugh! affected by sleep deprivation.” A number of studies by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University have indicated: By Matt Thomason • Drowsy driving causes 1 million crashes, 500,000 injuries, and 8,000 deaths each year in the United States I have started writing this article at a little after 8 am on Sunday, March • Just one sleepless night can impair performance as much as a 18, 2018. The reason I am telling you this is that yesterday was Satur- blood-alcohol level of 0.10 percent, beyond the legal limit to drive. day, March 17…a St. Patrick’s Day, on a Saturday. Whether having an • Like alcohol, sleep deprivation also affects judgment, making it Irish ancestry or not, many people would look at the day of celebration, harder to assess how impaired you are when you are tired. on a weekend, as a reason to stay up late and howl at the moon. We We have spoken from this corner before about how alcohol slows all need ways to blow off steam. I get it. We all have our own journeys. reactions and how, braking at highway speeds, you can travel the length Some party all night. We, however, have a passion for our motorcycle of an entire football field, before you have any effective stopping power riding! underway. That football field-length of reaction time can mean certain Other than my days in high school, which was much to the chagrin of disaster when riding at night, because how well can ANYONE see a my parents, I haven’t ever been the type to tolerate late nights. In fact, potential threat at 100 yards at night, when riding at highway speed, let I know it was shortly after 8:10 pm when I went to sleep last night (St. Patrick’s Saturday), because I pulled back the sheets on my bed at 8:10 alone the three deer hiding in the woods along the side of the road? Even when fully alert, it is impossible to predict what other vehicles pm, laid my phone on my nightstand and my head hit the pillow. I awoke or even pedestrians are going to do along the roadway. Let alone, the this morning at 6:45 with a new text message that had been sent to me 660,000 drivers that are texting, tweeting, or checking their social media at 8:14 last night. The phone did not wake me with that alert, as I was account, while behind the wheel, at any given moment (NHTSA, “Traffic fast asleep! Safety Facts”, 2015). 660,000! That is the population of Baltimore caus- I’m thankful for the nights that I get to do that. There was a period of ing terrorism on our nation’s highways right now. Let that sink in, and many years in my life where that was something not allowed, as I was we’ll visit that another day. servant of the public. My method of service was fighting fire and saving If you aren’t getting effective sleep at night, keep in mind that you are lives. There were nights I did not sleep at all. There were other nights going to be behind the curve on the physical and mental demands of I was awakened multiple times to rush out the door to be of assistance riding your motorcycle. If you drink alcohol at the same time, you are for those in need. Those nights seemed to be more dangerous than doubling up on your disadvantage. Consumption of alcohol and other the ones of staying awake the whole time, as the adrenaline/melatonin drugs while not getting the appropriate sleep is just asking for trouble swings really wreak havoc on the human body. on the next day’s ride, especially if riding in a group of others who have It was one of those nights where I was awakened three times, that I was returning to the station, just before first light, when I fell asleep at the done the same. Motorcycle riding provides too much joy and peace for one’s soul for wheel of my ambulance. I was awakened by my partner yelling at me as I was grinding the right wheel of the ambulance into the concrete wall of one to be fatigued or hungover, or both, when riding. If you get tired dur- ing the day, find a quiet spot or a roadside park and get in a 10-minute a bridge over the Meramec River. I was driving in my sleep. It wasn’t a nap! I’ve fallen victim of needing one of those on many a road trip and sudden stop against the concrete wall, as we were still moving forward. Fortunately, a tire and a wheel are simple to replace. Had there not been they are a great enabler to power through on to the evening’s destina- a concrete bridge wall, but a ditch or a bluff, or another vehicle, this story tion, for I know that remaining alert on my journey will keep me alive. Your body needs rest and recovery time for all the things you put would have gone a different direction for this (“partially-mortal”) writer. it through each day. Make sure to give your body the healthy stuff it I tell the above story as an example of why appropriate, high-quality needs, and it will treat you well all through the rest of your motorcycle sleep is important, especially to those whose lives have heavy physical or mental demands. While motorcycle riders are not necessarily college riding days. Rest well, be well, enjoy every minute of life on two wheels…or three or professional sport athletes, there are plenty of points arguing that wheels…so you can get home and live to ride another day! motorcycling in any fashion, does require a moderate level of athleticism, including quick reactions and coordination. A 2012 study by the Sports …and “Hey! Let’s be CAREFUL out there! Medicine Research Center at Tehran University of Medical Sciences documented “a strong effect of time awake on reaction time, suggest- ing that cognitive functions such as reaction time are….vulnerable to be Thunder Roads Magazine 14 Thunder Roads Magazine 15