Hold That Sneeze Tuesday, Jul 1 2014 

Fatigued and distracted, we sip hot coffee, devour hamburgers, jive to the music, talk on the phone with friends and coworkers, apply make-up, and discipline the little ones in the back seat—all while maneuvering a 4,000 pound vehicle on streets jammed with other cars, buses, and pedestrians.

Oh, and we also sneeze and blow our noses.

A study cited in the July issue of Allergy (and also the June 24th Wall Street Journal) stated that driving under the influence of allergies is comparable to having a low blood alcohol concentration. The study, which was conducted in the Netherlands, found that people with untreated allergy symptoms drove considerably more impaired than those who were not. It was as if they had a blood alcohol level of .03%. The tests used were similar to those for drunken driving.

The study also noted that, although driving improved in those who were administered antihistamines, they tested more poorly on oral exams than those who did not, most likely due the level of drowsiness from the medication.

So if the pollen count is high, you may want to reach for one of the over-the-counter remedies, or better yet, take public transportation. Who knows, the day may come when we will be arrested for sneezing behind the wheel.

©2014 Mary K. Doyle


Summer Drives Thursday, Jul 18 2013 

mkd.yellow daisies

I recently took a five-hour drive one day and back home the next. Going was enjoyable and even relaxing. But the ride home was rough. I began the drive already exhausted and emotionally drained and so had difficulty keeping alert and awake.

My solution was to stop often and get out of the car and walk around. I also drank ice water, munched on jalapeno Cheetos, listened to upbeat music, and kept the air conditioning blowing on me.

Taking a long drive is a summer highlight for many families. It can be a fun and memorable way to visit loved ones and scenic and historic sites across the country. But staying awake while driving can be challenging, especially when we are in the midst of summer heat and draining physical activity.

In addition to stopping often and the ice water, loud music, and peppery treats, here are a few other suggestions to help keep your attention on the road :

  • Chew gum
  • Get enough rest before setting out
  • Suck on peppermints
  • Plug in an invigorating aromatherapy adapter
  • Periodically stretch arms and legs
  • Avoid sugar, which can make you sleepy
  • Avoid consuming alcohol prior to driving
  • Avoid medications known to make you drowsy
  • Keep wind or air conditioning blowing on you
  • Talk to passengers or friends on the phone

The bottom line is to be safe. Never forget the powerful weapon a vehicle can be. If you don’t feel able to drive  without hurting yourself or anyone else on the road, DON’T DRIVE. It is better to hand the keys over to someone else or arrive at a destination late or even on another day rather than risk anyone’s life.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

My Friend, Lady GPS Thursday, Jun 27 2013 

DSCN2021Lady GPS is my friend. That woman behind the GPS monitor patiently directs me to wherever I decide to go, and that is no easy feat. I have absolutely no sense of direction. An acquaintance who assesses traumatic brain injuries once told me it isn’t my fault. My brain just isn’t developed in the area of directions. I’m not sure how reassuring that statement is, but I know she’s right.

GPS devices are a miraculous invention. They have replaced the stress of trying to follow outdated maps and directions while driving on unknown roads. When navigating at night or in bad weather with poor visibility, the GPS calmly directs us to our destination. And Lady GPS does not even get impatient with us when we don’t follow her instructions. She simply “recalculates.”

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is relatively new to the public but now is a tool we can’t live without. The first satellite navigation system was successfully tested by the United States Navy way back in 1967. From that system, a man named Roger L. Easton developed the GPS in 1973, but it didn’t become fully operational until 1994.

In less than twenty years, the device has become a mainstay in most vehicles. And when not available or desired as a fixed item, most drivers opt for the portable ones that are easily and affordably updated.

Drive safely this summer, and let your GPS worry about how to get where you want to go.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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