Causes of Drowsy Driving

In 60 seconds, list all of the reasons you can think of that can cause a driver to be sleepy behind the wheel. There are several—how many can you identify?


Factors that increase the risk of drowsy-driving include:

  • Sleep loss (ex: chronic sleepiness, acute sleep loss)
  • Sleep-restrictive work patterns such as night shifts, overtime, and rotating shifts
  • Change in driving patterns, such as changing the time of day or amount of time spent driving
  • Use of Sedating Medications, either prescriptions or recreational drugs
  • Untreated Sleep Disorders such as Sleep Apnea Syndrome and Narcolepsy
  • Consumption of alcohol, which increases drowsiness and impairment

What Contributes to Aggressive Driving?

What factors contribute to aggressive drivers’ behavior?

  • Take 60 seconds to list all reasons you can think of for a driver to behave aggressively.

Three factors can contribute to aggressive driving behavior on Texas roads.

ONE. Lack of responsible driving behavior

  • On the road, the focus often is on individual rights and freedom, not on responsibility to other people with whom we share the road.

TWO. Reduced levels of enforcement

  • During tougher economic times many jurisdictions tend to cut back on traffic enforcement due to budget constraints.

THREE. More travel and congestion, especially in urban areas

  • From 2002 through 2013, the number of miles driven in the United States has increased by 5%, while the number of miles of available roads has increased only by 2.5%.
  • Some motorists find themselves responding to the frustrations of driving in high-density traffic areas by acting aggressively.

How to Recognize Aggressive Driving

What is Aggressive Driving?

  • In 60 seconds, list as many driving behaviors as you can that you would consider “aggressive.” Maybe you even encountered some while driving today!

How many of the following behaviors match your list?

Aggressive driving behaviors can include:

  • Speeding
  • Drag racing on public streets
  • Frequent and unnecessary lane changes
  • Tailgating
  • Running red or yellow lights
  • Cutting off other drivers
  • Angry gesturing or yelling at other drivers
  • Ignoring posted traffic signs or barriers, such as yield signs or lowered railway crossing gates

While all of these are dangerous behaviors, which one has NHTSA called “one of the most dangerous forms of aggressive driving”?

Answer. Running a red light.


Stand, Sit or Lean – Multitasking Improv Activity

How much thought process is required for you to talk on a cell phone and do another activity at the same time? Let’s find out!

  1. In your group, assign three volunteers to do a fairly physical yet fun activity.
  2. Have the rest of the group choose a topic for the volunteers to discuss (perhaps make a topic like “cell phone use while driving”).
  3. Volunteers are to carry on a discussion about the chosen topic, BUT each volunteer has to pick a position (standing, sitting or leaning*) during the conversation.
  4. The volunteers should change positions randomly and frequently while they are talking. If one person changes from standing to sitting, then the person who is sitting must quickly pick a different position, and so on.
  5. Encourage the observers to yell out to the volunteers if they see more than one person in the same position at the same time.
  6. Continue play for a few minutes before stopping to discuss.

*NOTE: If the teaching environment does not have a chair to sit or lean on, you may alternate with kneeling or bending instead.

  • Volunteers, how did you feel when doing the activity?
  • Was it stressful?
  • Did you make mistakes? Did it get confusing?

Doing another task that requires focus impacts your ability to carry on a conversation at the same time. 

You can’t do two thinking activities at once and do them well. Please remember this and avoid your phones while driving!


The Myth of Multitasking Test

Watch this video, and then try the exercise yourself or with a group. (You will need paper and pencil for this one, plus a stopwatch or watch with a second hand.)

Time the following with your stopwatch:

  1. Write out the following sentence, “Switchtasking is a thief”. Then write the numbers 1 through 21 on the line beneath.

Next, time the following with your stopwatch:

  1. Now write the same sentence and numbers on two new separate lines of the paper, but this time alternating writing one letter and one number at a time (ex: “S” with a “1” on line below, “W” with a “2” below, etc.

When you’re finished, discuss:

  • Did it take almost twice as much time to complete this task when you were “switchtasking”?
  • Did the quality decrease (sloppier handwriting, mistakes)?
  • Did you feel more stressed in doing the task the second time around?

How does this correspond to driving? Any activity that takes your mind off of the task of driving is a form of multitasking or switchtasking. You will be more apt to make slower choices, mistakes and have increased stress.

Stay focused on the ONE task – driving safely.


Distractions in 60 Seconds

What distracts drivers? List as many distractions you can think of in 60 seconds.

Did you come up with all of these?

Some of the most common and dangerous multitasking distractions while driving include:

  • Talking on a cell phone – whether hands-free or handheld
  • Texting
  • Using an electronic device while the vehicle is in motion: speech-to-text, GPS, computer, etc.
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player
  • Removing items from the glove compartment or backseat
  • Applying makeup or grooming
  • Eating and drinking
  • Reading, including maps
  • Dealing with children or pets in the car

Don’t multi-task – make driving your only task when behind a wheel!