Driving home in the morning after staying awake all night partying can be dangerous. Sleep deprivation and intoxication severely impair your reflexes and ability to perceive your environment quickly, putting other people (and yourself) at risk.
- Don’t drive if you have been been using drugs, in general. (Yes, including alcohol and cannabis, which are drugs.) Alcohol is the best-known example of this, with its significantly perception-altering depressant effects that reduce reaction time and motor control. Other drugs, however, are also capable of interrupting normal perception of your environment, disrupting your ability to take information in, process it, and respond to it quickly and effectively.
- Ideally, you should always get a full night of sleep after a drug experience before driving. If that’s not possible, it is not enough to simply feel “able to drive” after being altered – you should be 100% completely sober before getting behind the wheel. Even after the acute effects of a drug have worn off and you no longer feel distinctly off of baseline, your system needs time to fully process any substance.
- Don’t drive if you are too tired or sleepy. If you are feeling sleepy, you might be thinking only about getting home and into bed. Driving tired, however, is surprisingly dangerous. Indeed, driving after 20 hours of wakefulness is the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, the legal limit. It’s been estimated that 21% of fatal car crashes come from driving while drowsy.
- Exhaustion can cause “micro-sleeps,” where your brain blinks in and out of consciousness. These can make the car drift off the road or collide with another vehicle. (Note: Coffee may keep you awake, but it won’t improve your driving ability if you are significantly tired or sleepy. Your reaction time will be dangerously slow.)
- Remember: You can consent to being put at risk by your own driving if you are not safe to do so, but other people cannot.
Avoid getting into a potentially dangerous driving situation
- Assign a “designated driver” who agrees to stay sober the entire night and to not exhaust themselves from dancing for too long.
- Leave the party/rave/club/festival before you get too tired to drive. It’s safer to show up earlier and leave earlier than to show up late and leave later. Know your body’s limits.
- Take transit. If you know you’re going to stay all night, some raves end late enough in the morning that public transportation systems may be running.
- Take a cab or rideshare. Compared to the price of some raves, and definitely some drugs, cab fare is a relatively minor expense for the safety it provides. Plan to share a cab with others to spread out the costs. (Not to mention that late-night cab rides can come with some entertaining conversations.)
If you find yourself in a potentially dangerous driving situation
- Have someone else drive the car who has been sober the whole night or is more rested than you.
- Take a bus or a cab and come back later to get your car.
- Go home with someone else and come back later to get your car.
- Make sure somebody stays awake along with the driver and keeps conversation going. Have this person sit in the front passenger seat. Talking to a sleepy driver helps keep them awake and alert.
- When all else fails, lock your doors and sleep in your car! (Keep in mind, however, that in some states even having your keys in the ignition constitutes drunken driving. If you are intoxicated, you may want to hide your keys in the tire well or under the hood, so it is clear to any police officer who may approach you that you were never driving in that condition.)
Bus to Show, Inc. (BTS) is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to reducing intoxicated driving by organizing eco-friendly, community-integrated and financially-accessible party bus transportation to concerts and other events. BTS provides round trip transportation for you and your friends with several pick up locations. Currently, they have busses in and around Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Illinois, and Florida. Availability is based on membership, trial or monthly. For more information and bus schedules, visit http://bustoshow.org/calendar/.