Global Navigation

Ride Smart!
Ride Safe! Ride Often!

Main Navigation



Sleepless in the Saddle

We all know the effects alcohol and other drugs have on our riding abilities and are smart enough to separate drinking and riding. We understand the impact drugs like alcohol have on our vision and judgment as well as our coordination, balance and reaction time.

However we often overlook or ignore the effect being tired has on our ability to control our motorcycle. Perhaps in our fast paced world we’ve grown accustomed to long days and being tired just seems like a normal thing. But if we think about how we function when we’re tired, we know we’re not on top of our game.

Fatigue and drowsiness can impair our riding abilities more than we realize. If we are using a mental strategy such as Search – Predict – Act to identify potential hazards, determine what to do about them and then follow through on that decision, fatigue and drowsiness affect every step of that process.

"We find it more difficult to remain focused on our riding and the mental strategy that we employ to keep us out of trouble on the road."

We don’t see as clearly through sleepy eyes. Even though our eyelids may not be actually drooping, we still seem to have a tougher time identifying things happening around us. We may not see that car failing to slow as it approaches the intersection ahead.

Being overly tired lowers our attention span. We find it more difficult to remain focused on our riding and the mental strategy that we employ to keep us out of trouble on the road. We tend to pay less attention to our riding when we’re drowsy as our mind drifts from one thing to the next.

Our thinking process also slows down as though our mind is in a fog as fatigue and drowsiness set in. It takes us a little more time to recognize that a potential problem is developing and to determine what to do about it. We may see the car, but it may not register that it’s going too fast to stop at the corner.

Our reactions are also lowed when we are tired. Assuming that we saw the other car start turning into our path and realized we needed to stop quickly, we don’t reach for the brakes as rapidly as we would when we’re wide awake. This delay in braking can be all it takes eliminate our ability to avoid the crash.

The effects of fatigue and drowsiness are much like the effects of alcohol. Being awake for 18 hours affects our body and mind about the same as 2-1/2 beers. That’s like having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05, even though we’ve had nothing alcoholic to drink. If we’ve gone 24 hours without sleep, our mind and body function as though we had drunken five beers with its resultant BAC of 0.10.

Fatigue and drowsiness can easily creep up on us if we are not careful and the effects can be damaging to both our bike and our bodies. We must make sure we are well rested when we ride and avoid riding when we’re not. Being sleepless in the saddle can have disastrous results.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!