Treading a dangerous route

Sleep-deprived drivers

Treading a dangerous route

Ever found yourself in a taxi with a driver who is so drowsy that he can barely keep his eyes open, but still manages to keep the vehicle on the right track? Ever found yourself wishing the death ride would end so that you could feel the safety of the ground once again?

Taxi drivers are a group of one amongst the many professionals who are plagued by sleep deprivation and insomnia these days. Most drivers work for over 12 hours a day and have irregular shifts that affect their sleeping pattern.

While this also puts the safety of the passenger at risk, most taxi drivers have put their own lives at risk by adapted to this unhealthy lifestyle.
Ravi, who alternates between driving an auto and his brother’s taxi, says, “I get up at 4 am and work till afternoon. Then I take a little break and work till a little past midnight.”

When asked why he works so hard, he says, “Right now I am young. In a few years, I will be married and have to settle down. I will need money for that. That’s the time I will need money so I might as well struggle now and relax later. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get a little sleep.” Although most drivers have adjusted to this lifestyle, they don’t realise that the body needs a regular sleep cycle in order to function at its best.

Manjunath, another taxi driver, says that he has gotten used to the irregular hours and now he can’t sleep at one given time.

“We usually have shifts that extend over 14 hours a day. Whenever I get a call, I go, even if it’s in the night. My body has learnt to get sleep whenever there is time so now, there is no fixed time in which I sleep.”

Satish (name changed) says, “I have my phone and take a call only when I’m on duty, be it day or night. When I’m with a passenger and I’m driving late into the night and I feel very tired, I either pour water on my face or I ask them if we can rest for the night. Sometimes, if I’m really tired, I catch up on my sleep in my car itself.”
Manjunath adds, “Even if I’m sleepy, I don’t let myself doze off because the safety of the passenger comes first to me.” Ravi says that everyone should have a goal towards which they are aiming for and thinking of that will keep them awake.
While a person does need motivation, should they compromise their health?
Anand Philip, a general physician at Nation Wide, says, “Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in coordination in people, without even them noticing it, and this can lead to accidents.

And for persons who are doing regular night shifts, it may lead to high blood pressure and a general lowered quality of life, if they aren’t making up for that sleep during the day time.”  

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