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4 Driving Lessons From Self Driving Cars

4 Driving Lessons From Self Driving Cars

As Google leads the initiative on the development of self driving cars, we have a lot of opportunities to learn about what it takes to teach a computer how to drive. According to a study done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, self-driving cars have so far done a better job staying out of car crashes and minimizing their consequences compared to human-driven cars.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re free of accidents. Google realized during its self-driving car experiment that the biggest danger to a self-driving car would be the unpredictable and sometimes neglectful nature of human drivers.

The company’s experiment has given it the chance to learn some valuable lessons in how to drive safely, including some that humans could benefit from too. Here are four driving lessons we can learn from self-driving cars.

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  1. Look beyond the car in front of you

Google’s car uses sensors to identify and anticipate objects in the distance in order to take them into account. This enables it to avoid hitting obstacles that could catch it by surprise.

Human drivers lack  some of the sensors Google’s self-driving car boasts, but we can instead rely on vigilance to maintain awareness of where others are as they move around you, even if they’re not immediately in front of you.

It’s also critical to look left and right, not just follow the directives right in front of you, before driving. For example, rather than merely using a red or green light to identify if you should go, be sure to also consider whether any pedestrians look like they’re planning on crossing. They often have right of way and you don’t want to break suddenly to avoid hitting someone that you neglected to take into account because it wasn’t a car in front of you.

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  1. Anticipate the actions of other drivers

It is obviously impossible to perfectly guess what drivers around you are planning on doing, but an educated guess is often helpful on the road.

For example, if a car in front of you is slowing down and you know an intersection or street is coming up, consider the possibility that they are going to turn, and move out of the away or slow down yourself to avoid rear-ending them.

It’s also important to consider what other drives may not realize. A car may be indicating that they’ll turn with a turn signal, but if they’ve had the signal on for a long minute without moving they may have forgotten it was turned on at all.

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Other drivers won’t follow the rules perfectly, and it’s important to try to accommodate for human intention and human error.

  1. Learn the roads around you

Your usual route to work may be familiar, but it turns out that familiarity may encourage you to tune out and put yourself and other drivers at risk.

Rather than sticking to your same routine every single day, consider alternate routes that are available to you. You can check a map of local accident hotspots to find areas to avoid. These give you the option of varying your travel, but it also allows you to adjust your route in anticipation of events such as traffic jams or rush hours.

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Learning alternative routes allows you to calculate for yourself new options on the go and helps you get out of ruts, bumper to bumper traffic and other stressful situations that can lead to an accident.

  1. Don’t take risks on the road

Google’s self-driving cars have garnered some complaints that they drive too carefully, making it slow and overly cautious. However, the car’s decreased accident statistics indicate that it probably know best how to minimize the impact of a car accident, making it an excellent driver for others to model themselves after.

That means that taking extra precautions, anticipating the actions of others, avoiding sudden turns, speeding up or slowing down quickly and using non-aggressive drying is objectively the best choice for drivers to protect themselves. Although it won’t take you where you need to go as quickly, it will get you there safely, which is infinitely more important.

Self driving cars are likely the future of cars, but in the meantime, humans will continue to be behind the wheel, and while we remain in the driver’s seat, we would do well to learn from our future drivers how to keep ourselves safe.

Featured photo credit: Gordon Tarpley via flic.kr

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Last Updated on October 29, 2018

What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

Brain fog is more of a symptom than a medical condition itself, but this doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Brain fog is a cognitive dysfunction, which can lead to memory problems, lack of mental clarity and an inability to focus.

Many often excuse brain fog for a bad day, or get so used to it that they ignore it. Unfortunately, when brain fog is ignored it ends up interfering with work and school. The reason many ignore it is because they aren’t fully aware of what causes it and how to deal with it.

It’s important to remember that if your brain doesn’t function fully — nothing else in your life will. Most people have days where they can’t seem to concentrate or forget where they put their keys.

It’s very normal to have days where you can’t think clearly, but if you’re experiencing these things on a daily basis, then you’re probably dealing with brain fog for a specific reason.

So what causes brain fog? It can be caused by a string of things, so we’ve made a list things that causes brain fog and how to prevent it and how to stop it.

1. Stress

It’s no surprise that we’ll find stress at the top of the list. Most people are aware of the dangers of stress. It can increase blood pressure, trigger depression and make us sick as it weakens our immune system.

Another symptom is mental fatigue. When you’re stressed your brain can’t function at its best. It gets harder to think and focus, which makes you stress even more.

Stress can be prevented by following some simple steps. If you’re feeling stressed you should avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine — even though it may feel like it helps in the moment. Two other important steps are to indulge in more physical activities and to talk to someone about it.

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Besides that, you can consider keeping a stress diary, try relaxation techniques like mediation, getting more sleep and maybe a new approach to time management.

2. Diet

Most people know that the right or wrong diet can make them gain or loss weight, but not enough people think about the big impact a specific diet can have on one’s health even if it might be healthy.

One of the most common vitamin deficiencies is vitamin B12 deficiency and especially vegans can be get hid by brain fog, because their diet often lacks the vitamin B-12. The vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mental and neurological disorders.

The scary thing is that almost 40 % of adults are estimated to lack B12 in their diet. B12 is found in animal products, which is why many vegans are in B12 deficiency, but this doesn’t mean that people need animal products to prevent the B12 deficiency. B12 can be taken as a supplement, which will make the problem go away.

Another vital vitamin that can cause brain fog is vitamin D. More than 1 billion people worldwide don’t have enough vitamin D in their diet. Alongside B12 and vitamin D is omega-3, which because of its fatty acids helps the brain function and concentrate. Luckily, both vitamin D and omega-3 can be taken as supplements.

Then there’s of course also the obvious unhealthy foods like sugar. Refined carbohydrates like sugar will send your blood sugar levels up, and then send you right back down. This will lead to brain fog, because your brain uses glucose as its main source of fuel and once you start playing around with your brain — it gets confused.

Besides being hit by brain fog, you’ll also experience tiredness, mood swings and mental confusion. So, if you want to have clear mind, then stay away from sugar.

Sometimes the same type of diet can be right for some and wrong for others. If you’re experiencing brain fog it’s a good idea to seek out your doctor or a nutritionist. They can take some tests and help you figure out which type of diet works best for your health, or find out if you’re lacking something specific in your diet.

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3. Allergies

If you have food allergies, or are simply a bit sensitive to specific foods, then eating those foods can lead to brain fog. Look out for dairy, peanuts and aspartame that are known to have a bad effect on the brain.

Most people get their calories from corn, soy and wheat — and big surprise — these foods are some of the most common foods people are allergic to. If you’re in doubt, then you can look up food allergies[1] and find some of the most common symptoms.

If you’re unsure about being allergic or sensitive, then you can start out by cutting out a specific food from your diet for a week or two. If the brain fog disappears, then you’re most likely allergic or sensitive to this food. The symptoms will usually go away after a week or two once you remove the trigger food from the diet.

If you still unsure, then you should seek out the help of your doctor.

4. Lack of sleep

All of us know we need sleep to function, but it’s different for everybody how much sleep they need. A few people can actually function on as little as 3-4 hours of sleep every night, but these people are very, very rare.

Most people need 8 to 9 hours of sleep. If you don’t get the sleep you need, then this will interfere with your brain and you may experience brain fog.

Instead of skipping a few hours of sleep to get ahead of things you need to do, you’ll end up taking away productive hours from your day, because you won’t be able to concentrate and your thoughts will be cloudy.

Many people have trouble sleeping but you can help improve your sleep by a following a few simple steps.

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There is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise, which is a technique that regulates your breath and helps you fall asleep faster. Another well-known technique is to avoid bright lights before you go to sleep.

A lot of us are guilty of falling asleep with the TV on or with our phone right by us, but the blue lights from these screens suppresses the production of melatonin in our bodies, which actually makes us stay awake longer instead. If you’re having trouble going to sleep without doing something before you close your eyes, then try taking up reading instead.

If you want to feel more energized throughout the day, start doing this.

5. Hormonal changes

Brain fog can be triggered by hormonal changes. Whenever your levels of progesterone and estrogen increases, you may experience short-term cognitive impairment and your memory can get bad.

If you’re pregnant or going through menopause, then you shouldn’t worry too much if your mind suddenly starts to get a bit cloudy. Focus on keeping a good diet, getting enough of sleep and the brain fog should pass once you’re back to normal.

6. Medication

If you’re on some medication, then it’s very normal to start experiencing some brain fog.

You may start to forget things that you used to be able to remember, or you get easily confused. Maybe you can’t concentrate the same way that you used to. All of these things can be very scary, but you shouldn’t worry too much about it.

Brain fog is a very normal side effect of drugs, but by lowering your dosage or switching over to another drug; the side effect can’t often be improved and maybe even completely removed.

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7. Medical condition

Brain fog can often be a symptom of a medical condition. Medical conditions that include inflammation, fatigue, changes in blood glucose level are known to cause brain fog.

Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, anemia, depression, diabetes, migraines, hypothyroidism, Sjögren syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, Lupus and dehydration can all cause brain fog.[2]

The bottom line

If you haven’t been diagnosed, then never start browsing around Google for the conditions and the symptoms. Once you start looking for it; it’s very easy to (wrongfully) self-diagnose.

Take a step back, put away the laptop and relax. If you’re worried about being sick, then always check in with your doctor and take it from there.

Remember, the list of things that can cause brain fog is long and it can be something as simple as the wrong diet or not enough sleep.

Featured photo credit: Asdrubal luna via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Food Allergy: Common Allergens
[2]HealthLine: 6 Possible Causes of Brain Fog

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