Whether it’s morning or night, on a county road or the interstate, driving requires immense concentration. While distracted and intoxicated driving get most of the negative ink – and rightfully so – drowsy driving is also an endemic in the United States, contributing to or causing thousands of auto accidents every year.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll, 60% of adult drivers say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy, while 37% have actually fallen asleep at the wheel. Obviously, these statistics are staggering and speak to a monumental problem on our roadways.
If you’ve ever started to doze off behind the wheel, it’s imperative that you pull over immediately. If you’re slightly fatigued, use your discretion to determine if it’s safe to continue. If ‘yes’, follow these 8 tips to ensure you stay sharp behind the wheel.
1) Roll Down Windows
A little wind in your face might be the perfect medicine for your malaise. Roll down your windows and let the wind whip around your car. This should perk you right up.
2) Talk On Phone
Using a blue tooth device or your vehicle’s hands-free technology, call a friend or family member. The conversation should stimulate your mind. Please note that driving while using a cell phone is illegal in many states, so review your state laws before using this technique.
3) Listen to Pump Up Music
Pop in your favorite pump up CD and crank up the volume. Sing along with the music to energize yourself for the duration of your drive.
4) Play “I Spy”
Look for certain objects, signs or cars on the road. While this game is easier to play during the day, you can still “spy” in the dark. This will keep you engaged and focused. But be sure to keep your eyes on the road!
5) Don’t Use Cruise Control
Never use cruise control when you’re feeling fatigued. If you fall asleep behind the wheel when your car is in cruise control, it could be fatal. Plus, operating the gas pedal manually requires more focus, helping you stay engaged.
6) Chew Gum or Ice
Stop at a convenience store and pick up a pack of gum, or visit a fast food restaurant and grab a drink. Munching on gum or ice keeps your mouth busy and your body awake.
7) Energy Drink
If you’re able to stop at a convenience store for gum, you might as well pick up an energy drink while you’re there. While energy drinks are generally unhealthy, they are intended for this very purpose: giving you a jolt of energy when you need it most.
8) Lower the Temperature
Keep the temperature a little cooler than you prefer, but not so cold that you’re shivering and unable to concentrate. A cooler climate will remove you from your comfort zone (in a good way) and help you stay awake.