May 18 2012

Distracted Driving: Beyond Texting and Driving – Vol. 149, May 18, 2012

Distracted driving Distracted driving


Donna M. Novi

My Godchild Zach, who just turned 17 got his drivers license recently and I cringe every time I think of him driving. He is a very responsible young person and a total athlete, jock as they say. I know because I asked and he told me he would never drink or do any drugs to begin with, much less drive after doing so. I had to ask. I believe him, he has given me no reason not to.
Neurological researchers around the country, spearheaded by Jay Giedd of the National Institute of Mental Health, have in recent years found that the brain is not fully developed until after age 18. The brain system that regulates logic and reasoning develops before the area that regulates impulse and emotions, the researchers say.
So even though I feel Zach is an extremely responsible young adult, more than most adults I know, I still cringe at the thought of my loved one on the road.
Another concern to me is that most people, from the young to the old have lost all respect for one another especially on the road. They certainly forget the rules of the road while driving it. They pass in the right lane, travel in the left lanes on highways. Speed limits are out the window for many. And especially in Massachusetts, there is no such thing as merging, yielding lacking any basic driver courtesy.
We could blame it all on the young people, since I am in that age where I am considered an experienced driver now, far past 18 years of age. However, I see everyone from the young to the old demonstrating total disregard for the rules of the road, demonstrating a total disregard for human life.
With all the sleeping pills out there and the world’s seemingly hectic life style, it is scary to think that people actually get behind the wheel the morning after. Because in fact that is truly what it is-the “morning after” you have ingested a mind altering drug.
The half-life of Ambien is about 2 hours. Most drugs are cleared from the body within 5 or 6 half-lives. Therefore, if one took the Ambien on Friday night, it should be out of his system within 10 to 12 hours, before the next afternoon. This is only an estimate.  Each individual person will metabolize drugs differently depending on things such as weight, liver function, kidney function, and other factors.

I don’t know many individuals these days that get 10-12 hours of sleep, especially on a weekend. Antihistamines are another problem as many people take them, and then drive thinking nothing of it.
Half-life of some common ingredients in Antihistamines:


Acrivastine – 1.5 to 3.5 hours.
  • Brompheniramine – 2.5 hours.
  • Cetirizine – Mean elimination half-life is 7.9 hours
  • Chlorpheniramine –  21 to 27 hours.
  • Diphenhydramine – 1 to 4 hours.
  • Loratadine –  3 to 20 hours (mean, 8.4 hours)
  • Triprolidine – 3 to 3.3 hours.
  • Sympathomimetic amines:
  • Phenylephrine –  2.1 to 3.4 hours.
  • Pseudoephedrine – 4.5 to 8 hours.

Half life is defined as the time it takes for HALF of the chemical to clear your body. So if you multiply the half life by 5 or 6 all of the drug should be cleared from your body. Understand that some of these drugs take over 20 hours to totally clear one’s body. Yet we don’t think twice about getting behind the wheel.
Even though it feels like one is fine to drive, some people who are clearly intoxicated feel as if they too can drive safely, as you are trying desperately to wrestle the keys away from that person. We have to understand that sometimes our brains just don’t react the normally on some medications given their influence on our nervous systems including our lack reflexes. With this being the case more care needs to be given to what we are doing before we get in our vehicles to drive.
Perhaps “they” just don’t realize the potential they have when “they” get behind a wheel to harm or even kill. I put “they” in quotes meaning of course not me. Now I understand how easy it is to think that if I were to be excluded in this situation I would be saying that I am super human, which I am not. I too am sad to report am guilty of tailgating too close to the car in front of me, talking on the cell phone while driving and other infractions that could contribute to or cause a fatality.
There is just way too much stimulation in vehicles today. Even TV’s, although in the back seat, one can still hear the Celtic’s play offs or the evening news if the kids are watching it. A huge distraction to any fan of theirs.

The GPS is a great device, however can be a distraction as well just as the chap stick that you drop and try to pick up while you continue to drive, keeping your eyes on the road at all times of course.

It was a great idea to put the radio controls on the steering wheels. I know this for sure as I was rear ended once while sitting at a red light. The young man having looked down to change the station did not look up in time. At least I was in my car, and not crossing the street.
Every time we get in the car, we have the potential to kill or be killed. Pretty scary stuff. Whether intentional or not, the potential is there.

Every time we pick up a gun the potential is there if it is loaded to kill, just like every time we get behind the wheel of a car-if it is “loaded” with gas, we have the potential to kill.

It doesn’t even have to be road rage, it can be simple as missing that exit daydreaming and then trying to compensate for time by speeding up.

I saw a cartoon in the paper today, a guy driving a car and the caption read “Let me call you back.  I’m trying to eat, shave and reprogram my GPS.”

Are we really all that busy? Is it really a cartoon or is it reality?

If you are finding yourself feeling overwhelmed or lacking in sleep a good hypnotist can help you to get to the cause of the issue and relieve you of the need to take medications for these symptoms if all physiological causes have been ruled out by a competent doctor.

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photo by: OregonDOT



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