Driving while jet lagged is something we should avoid when at all possible. However, one American poll discovered 60% of adults in that country had driven while tired in the past year. Yet many of us will drive to the airport to go on holiday, without thinking of the potential harm jet lag could cause when we arrive back to drive home again. Driving while jet lagged can be potentially dangerous, so it makes sense to learn more about it to reduce the odds you will be involved in an accident.
What is jet lag?
Jet lag is the term given to a range of symptoms people experience when they have travelled from one time zone to another. While you may experience a small degree of it travelling between two zones where there may only be an hour or two in difference between them, this tends to be referred to as travel fatigue. People tend to be prone to it when travelling through several time zones. The bigger the difference between the zones, the more likely it is you could suffer from jet lag.
The NHS website states jet lag is only likely to occur when you travel through a minimum of three time zones. When this occurs, you may experience a range of symptoms, including disturbed sleep and sleeping at the ‘wrong’ times of the day. You might also experience disruptions to your eating schedule and bowel habits, neither of which are pleasant and both of which can cause further discomfort.
What can you do to ensure you are not driving while jet lagged?
If you know you are travelling abroad and you will be flying through several time zones, consider getting a cab to and from the airport, so you don’t have to drive at all. Driving while jet lagged is something people rarely think about, particularly since you’ll be fine to get to the airport on the outward journey. It’s only when you come home that you will feel tired and eager to get home.
One study undertaken at Manchester Airport discovered 50% of those travelling over long distances were driving home. Clearly, there is the potential for accidents to happen.
What can you do to ensure you drive safely?
Ideally, take a cab, as we mentioned above. The other option would be to check into a hotel nearby as soon as you land, so you can get some sleep before completing your journey home.
If you are already on the way home, or you have decided you are fine but you then start to feel sleepy driving while jet lagged, pull over at the earliest opportunity. This should be somewhere safe – ideally, a service station – so you can get some food and drink. Coffee or any other caffeinated drink is a good idea. Think about eating something that will give you some slow-release energy, too, as this will be good in keeping you going.
You might also drive with the window down to let some fresh air in, or to drive with the air conditioning on. Driving while jet lagged is worse if you feel warm, as you’re more likely to lose concentration or doze off. The Think! website maintained by the government reveals 20% of the accidents that happen on major roads are related to a lack of sleep.
The main thing to remember is to stop if you are feeling tired. You may want to get home as quickly as possible, but getting home safely is by far the most important thing. Recognise that driving while jet lagged is never a safe thing to do.
What to do if you’re injured because someone else was driving whilst jet lagged
Sadly, even if you do everything correctly, accidents can still happen that are caused by other people. If this happens to you, you could end up being hurt when you did nothing wrong. Injuries that are suffered in car accidents can range from whiplash to broken bones, and bruises to head injuries. It all depends on how bad the accident was, and what the circumstances of the crash were.
You may be recovering from injuries suffered in a road accident. If so, it is worth speaking with an advisor who deals with claims relating to personal injuries suffered by innocent people. Even if the third party involved does admit liability on the scene, you should still get expert legal advice as soon as you feel able to. There is a three-year period during which any claim you make must be initiated, for you to have a chance to claim anything.
Driving after a long flight is never smart. There are things you can do to minimise the fatigue you will feel in this instance, such as sharing the driving with someone else, and pulling off to take a short nap before continuing. However, nothing replaces the best scenario, which is to get seven to eight hours’ worth of sleep before you drive.
Call our team today to benefit from our advice
We provide no-obligation advice to people in situations much like the one you may be in now. By calling Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500, you can ask us all the questions you’re bound to have in this instance. If you’re on your mobile, please call 0333 500 0993 instead. Being caught up in a serious road accident is a life-changing experience, even if you eventually make a full recovery from your injuries. You have a right to seek compensation for the injuries you ended up with if you were not at fault in an accident caused by someone driving while jet lagged, and someone else was.
Since you can get our advice with no obligation to carry on with a claim, you’ve nothing to lose – and your call could soon lead to a no-win, no-fee* claim, supported by the experience of one of our personal injury lawyers.