As summer approaches so does those fun road trips. Whether you are driving just a few hours or many hours, you want to stay alert and keep yourself, your passengers and others on the road safe. While driving long distances, one of the main concerns is driving while drowsy because it can be a dangerous combination.
Driving drowsy can be just as fatal as driving while drinking. Just like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of crashing.
Sleepiness or Fatigue Causes the Following:
- Impaired reaction time, judgment and vision
- Problems with information processing and short-term memory
- Decreased performance, vigilance and motivation
- Increased moodiness and aggressive behaviors
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy and 37% admit to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. When driving you may not even be aware that you are so tired that you will actually fall asleep, most people will say that they are not tired, it’s only a few more hours…we can make it through. Unknowingly that they are putting themselves and others in danger.
Here are some signs that should tell a driver to stop and rest:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless and irritable
Now you know the risks and what to look for the warning signs of a drowsy driver, but now what can you do to keep yourself awake and alert at all times.
Here are some tips to protect you while on the road.
- Pull over and take a cat-nap at a safe rest area, a 20 minute power nap can make all the difference.
- Eat a healthy meal before and during your trip. I know fast food is more convenient but it also contains fat, salt and sugar that makes you tired. Energy food consists of complex carbohydrates and protein, which will give you long-lasting stamina.
- Take vitamins like B and C which give you energy, it’s best to take them right before you eat
- You need to move around to keep that blood flowing so pull over every few hours to stretch your legs.
- Turn up the tunes! Music affects your mood which in turn affects your fatigue level. Just remember to listen to something lively that you can sign along with.
- Bring snacks along to munch on, just keep it on the healthy side because tons of sugar will make you even more tired.
- Bring some audio books along to listen to while on the road. Pick a good mystery suspense thriller.
- Open the windows and let oxygen flow in.
- Keep yourself hydrated and avoid caffeine. Yes, you heard me! Caffeine wears off and it’s a diuretic which will make you pee more than water.
So stay safe on the road this summer. If you are looking for more summer tips here are some fun tips on how to make family road trips fun and safe. Make sure your vehicle is ready for travel and get out there and have fun!