If you’ve worked the night shift or driven back from a faraway location, chances are you know what it feels like to drive while drowsy. Though it’s common to feel tired after a long day, many don’t realize how dangerous it is to get behind the wheel of a vehicle in a sleepy state. While we’ve been taught that drinking and driving is dangerous, driving while drowsy can have the same results that we all try to avoid. Though professional truck drivers have specialized ways to fight off the exhaustion, those of us who drive shorter distances still need to make sure we’re awake when we get behind the wheel. Keep yourself, and the people around you, safe by practicing these drowsy driving prevention tips.
Know the Signs
Whether you drive a long distance for your daily commute or you’re a commercial truck driver, we all experience similar symptoms that let us know we’re too tired to drive. Some of these red flags include difficulty focusing or heavy eyelids, wandering or disconnected thoughts, frequent yawning, and trouble keeping your head up. You may also notice yourself drifting into another lane, tailgating, or hitting a curb. Remain on the lookout for these signs, both before you get behind the wheel and while you’re driving, and it can be the difference between a successful drive and a crash.
While a full eight hours of sleep is the best way to avoid drowsiness while driving, it might not always be realistic with a hectic schedule. Naps are the best alternative to catch up on a little sleep and curb the symptoms of drowsiness. This is why any preparation for a trip should include a quick nap before you leave, as it can energize you enough to make it to where you’re going.
If you’re going on a longer trip, you may also want to consider taking a few quick naps along the way. It may seem inconvenient, but pulling over and taking a short, 20-minute nap is the best way to keep yourself awake for the hours ahead.
Don’t Drive Alone
For long road trips, you might also want to consider bringing a friend along for the ride. Someone to converse with can keep you alert for longer. Then when you get tired, they can take the wheel as you rest. It’s often recommended that you switch drivers every two hours or so to keep one driver from getting too drained.
Listen to Music
However useful it would be to have a passenger for every trip, that can’t always be guaranteed. In their place, it could be beneficial to play music as you drive. You can’t play just any type of music, though. If it’s too quiet and soothing, it may make staying away even harder for you. It’s recommended that you try to listen to upbeat and energetic music to keep your energy up.
Be Careful when Driving at Night
If you’re tired before even getting into the car, it’s preferred that you don’t drive at night. While we can still be drowsy during the day, bright sunlight can perk us up and keep us from falling asleep where we sit. The lack of light at night increases the odds of your heavy eyelids giving way to sleep as you drive. If you work the night shift, however, it may not be possible to avoid it altogether. In cases like this, take special precautions to keep yourself alert when you know you’ll be driving in the dark. Some options to consider are listening to music or consuming a small amount of caffeine to get you through the ride.