One of the significant causes of car and truck accidents is drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel. It can happen to anyone, especially at night. It takes only a quick nod off—even for just one second—and you can lose control of your vehicle and swerve off the road or into the other lane. This article will discuss tips to stay awake while driving at night. We hope this article will help prevent some serious car accidents and serious injuries from happening.
Tips to Stay Awake While Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has compiled a list of tips and tricks to keep yourself awake while driving, especially at night. But these suggestions work even during the day.
Sometimes, when you drive long distances during the day, you can start to zone out and doze off, even if you’re not very tired. The monotonous action of just driving and staring ahead can be somewhat hypnotizing and can cause someone to lose concentration on what they are doing. Here are some tips to consider and keep in mind on your next long trip:
- Don’t drink and drive—You should never drink alcohol and then drive. Obviously, you shouldn’t drink to the point where it can affect your ability to drive safely. And that level of drinking is much lower than the .08 BAC. Even lower levels of BAC percentage can affect someone’s ability to drive safely. One thing that alcohol does do is make you more relaxed and causes drowsiness. So, even having a few glasses of wine out at dinner with friends can make some people sleepy enough that they may doze off behind the wheel while driving home.
- Drive long distances with a companion—If possible, if you have a long trip to make, have someone in the car with you. They can help you stay awake through conversation. Also, your companion can spot the signs and symptoms of you getting tired and possibly take over driving for a bit.
- Get a good night’s sleep—Prepare for the trip and get a good night’s sleep the night before a trip. The more rested you are, the less likely you are to doze off. But even that is not a sure thing, so keep in mind the rest of these tips.
- Start earlier—If possible, don’t begin driving later in the evening when you’re used to going to bed. Again, if possible, leave early in the morning when you’re most rested and refreshed.
- Pay attention to posture—How you sit behind the wheel helps. Try not to slouch or rest your head on the headrest. Keep your head up and also sit up and try to stay alert. This will help keep you sharp.
- Take a stretch—Getting out to stretch goes a long way. If you’re on a long trip, stop every few hours and take a break and stretch your legs, back, arms, and muscles. This will definitely perk you up and get your blood flowing. Also, the fresh air will help.
- Caffeine works—There’s nothing wrong with having a soda or a coffee or tea during the trip—anything to keep you fresh. Even before the caffeine kicks in, drinking something either cold or hot will give you a jolt of energy. But make sure to drink something well before you get too tired to drive.
- Ride with the window down—Having cool air blowing in your face sometimes helps with keeping you awake and sharp.
- Sing! —Turn the radio on, find a favorite station, and start singing. It doesn’t even matter if you like the song. Singing makes you feel good, brightens your mood, and wakes you up.
- Stop for a break—There’s nothing wrong with stopping at a rest stop and taking a quick nap. If possible, and if you feel safe, lock your doors and rest your head and your eyes. A 20-minute power nap goes a long way in helping to push through a long drive to your destination.
You may need a combination of many of these tips to keep you fresh, alert, and awake during a long trip.
Watch Out for Signs of Drowsiness
Another thing you can do is to keep an eye out for drowsiness and sleepiness. If you spot these signs, then you can more quickly do something about it. The first thing to consider is to think about drivers who are most at risk of falling asleep. If you are someone who already knows this can be an issue, especially on long trips during the night, you need to be diligent about it and plan and prepare for it.
While driving, if your thoughts are drifting and you can tell you’re not very focused, then you’re at risk of becoming drowsy. If your eyes keep going out of focus, then there’s a chance that you’re on the road to falling asleep behind the wheel.
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