Travel - Travel Tips
By: - at April 20, 2013

Tired While Driving? These Tips Can Help You Stay Awake and Alive

Tired behind the wheel of a carDriving and operating a vehicle responsibly should be every motoristís priority. Any type of distraction can take the driverís focus off of the road, and sometimes can even result in life-threatening situations. Being tired while driving or even falling asleep at the wheel can lead to potentially devastating accidents. The statistics are compelling. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 6 crashes are caused by a fatigued and drowsy driver. More than 1500 people die every year due to accidents caused by fatigued or drowsy motorists in the U.S. alone. More than 40,000 Americans sustain injuries as a direct or indirect result of drowsy drivers, and more than 100,000 accidents are also caused as a result of dozing off at the wheel. Sadly, the numbers in these statistics are most likely higher due to the fact that many fatal accidents caused by drowsy drivers are undocumented and overlooked.

What Can Drivers Do to Stay Awake?
Studies show that most drivers have admitted to driving while feeling immensely tired. It is ALWAYS best for a driver who feels too drowsy and unfocused to either find a place to pull off the road and rest, or to find a hotel/motel to rest. Our bodies and minds do not function properly if there is a deficit in our sleep cycles, and driving is an activity that needs our entire undivided attention. However, many of us will still choose to drive under drowsy circumstances. If that is the case, then it is important to do everything possible to stay alert and awake.

  • Good Driving PostureMaintain good posture: Keep both hands on the steering wheel at the 10:00 and 2:00 position; keep the driverís seat upright and take deep, focused breaths (this helps deliver more oxygen to brain cells which in turn will help keep the driver more alert).
  • Turn on fast-paced music: Such as a rock and roll radio station and turn the volume up. Rolling the windows down in the vehicle can also help by having fresh air circulate and create enough sound to help stay alert. Trying to sing along to the music will also help you from dozing off. Donít let your mind wander! Keep focused on the road at all times.
  • Drinking a caffeinated beverage: Drinking coffee or tea can help give that extra little boost of alertness. Just be mindful that caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and can cause someone to become even drowsier after the effects have worn off. If it is just a short driving distance it may be beneficial to drink a cup of coffee or an energy-type drink. Stopping at a gas station or convenient mart to get a cup of coffee can be helpful. It is also a good idea while you are out of the vehicle to do some jumping jacks or stretches (especially if traveling a long distance) to help get your blood circulating. Keep cans of caffeinated soda in the vehicle just in case stopping at a convenience mart is not an option.
  • Talk to Someone on the phone: If you have a hands-free or Bluetooth phone system available in your vehicle, you could call a friend or family member to talk to while driving. If possible, keep a GPS with your destination programmed into it so you are reminded when to turn and what routes to follow. Often times these devices can forewarn traffic disturbances, closed roads, and offer alternative routes. It may be more beneficial at night to take a route where the roads are more illuminated rather than dark back roads.

Things to Avoid

  • Texting While DrivingTexting Alcohol/drugs
  • Talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device
  • Reclining/slouching in seat
  • Silence or slow, relaxing music
  • Dark/desolate areas
  • Driving fast
  • Any other preventable distractions
Other Advice
Being prepared for emergencies can help save lives. It is always a good idea to have many emergency items on hand in the vehicle just in case.
  • Cellphone/smartphone
  • First Aid kit
  • Blanket
  • Bottled water
  • Umbrella/rain poncho
  • Spare tire
  • Road flares
  • Maps/GPS
  • Roadside assistance membership such as AAA

Final Thoughts
If youíve tried to follow these tips and still find that staying awake and focused is proving to be too difficult, please do not risk your life or the lives of others. Pull over at a rest stop, motel, or even on the far shoulder of the road if you have to. That is the only 100% guaranteed way that you will not become another sleep deprivation related driving statistic.

Statistics cited from https://www.aaafoundation.org/content/drowsy-driving


 

 

 

 

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