Soon, drowsiness takes over, and you find yourself slipping in and out of sleep. Then all of a sudden, you hear a horn blast, Pee! Pee! Peeeee! Someone is angrily blowing their car horn at you because you veered off course.
You wake up with a start and get your wheels back in control. Phew! What a save, you are so glad you didn’t cause an accident. Once the shock wears off, you drive on, still exhausted, trying to keep your eyes focused until you get to your destination.
This is a typical scenario that happens a lot to many of us when on long drives. It’s simply hard to focus on the road for miles on end when you are driving for a long period.
And yet, you need to drive safely to keep yourself, your passengers and other motorists safe. Is there anything you can do to stay alert on the wheel during long drives?
Well, there are some ways you can make a long drive bearable and avoid dozing off while on the wheel. Here are a few of them.
1. Get a driving buddy
It’s hard for you to sleep on the wheel when you have a co-driver keeping you alert. If possible, when going on a long trip, why don’t you get a driving buddy (preferably one who can drive and has a valid license) to come with you? This comes in handy when you need a rest, as they can take the wheel and you can get some much-needed sleep.
Make sure it’s someone you can stand and at the very least have a civil conversation with. Getting cooped up with someone who annoys you or is boring is not the way to go.
2. Recharge with some caffeine
Drinking a caffeine drink is one of the best ways to keep alert when you feel like shutting down. Luckily, there are always truck stops, roadside convenience stores, and eateries where you can buy a cup of coffee, a coke, or an energy drink.
Why don’t you set time in your drive schedule to make such pit stops? You can also stretch your legs, take a rest and a bathroom break before you get back on the road.
We don’t need to say this, but maybe we should. Drinking alcoholic beverages or taking drugs before you drive is not a good idea. Please don’t do it!
Apart from the monotony of driving, eye fatigue is another reason you get tired behind the wheel. It occurs when you focus for a long period on the road looking at road signs, staying alert and keeping track of other cars.
The glare from the sun contributes to eye strain and fatigue.
There are a few things you can do to prevent eye fatigue on the road.
- Wear protective eyewear: Always keep a pair of sunglasses with UV protection in your car for long drives. You could also get polarized sunglasses. These will filter out excess light and reduce glare.
- Switch contact lenses for eyeglasses: If you wear contact lenses, it may be a good idea to remove them when going on a long drive and wear spectacles instead. Wearing contact lenses during a long drive may lead to dryness and irritation, which will mess with your ability to concentrate on the road.
- Put up window film on your windscreen: If long road trips are a regular thing for you, maybe you should put up a window film on your windshield. Apart from protecting your eyes, the film will protect your car’s dashboard and interior from sun damage.
4. Get some entertainment
It’s hard to doze off with your favorite upbeat music blaring from the sound system. On a long trip, always bring along your favorite upbeat playlist to keep you company. Try to avoid crooners that may lull you to sleep.
It may also not be a good idea to depend on the radio stations as you may not always get good radio reception on the road. Instead, compile some upbeat songs on a CD or flash disk for your car and call it your road trip music. That way, you are sure you will be listening to tunes you love and are sure will keep you awake throughout your drive.
Another option is to listen to podcasts that keep your brain alert and make you think. For example, audiobooks are a great option. They could be of an intriguing story or even some information on a topic you want to learn about and find interesting. It’s easy to download audiobooks online, so stock up on some for your long drives.
Sometimes you may do all the above and still feel sleepy and exhausted. During such times, it’s best to find a busy truck stop, or road rest stop and just take a nap.
Sleeping for thirty minutes can help you stay focused for a further two or three hours drive. Many people like to hold out for a rest until they get to their destination, but that is unwise. Many accidents are caused by exhausted drivers than you can imagine.
According to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2017, an estimated 91,000 police-reported crashes were caused by sleepy drivers. Fifty thousand of these accidents led to injury, and 795 were fatal.
With such statistics, it’s better if you park your car in a safe place and take a rest whenever you feel sleepy during a long road trip. It could save your life and that of other motorists on the road.
These are 5 ways you can stay alert on the road when driving for long distances. Use them to stay safe and keep other motorists safe on the road. You don’t want to cause a car crash, do you?