How to Stay Alert on Long Drives

March 14th, 2017

Did you know that drowsy drivers are considered just as dangerous as drunk drivers?

Falling asleep at the wheel is a major concern for drivers on the road. If you are planning a long distance trip, it’s important that you understand the signs your body gives you that let you know when you need to take a break. Of course, the symptoms of fatigue vary from person to person, but if you notice that your attention starts to drift, your eyes start to flutter, or your head starts to nod off, it’s time to rest. We’ve put together some of the best (and safest) ways to stay awake and alert when you’re out on the road.

  • Travel with a buddy. When you’re traveling with someone else, you can use engaging conversation to stay awake, or devise a plan to swap driving responsibilities when you become fatigued. If the person you’re riding with isn’t eligible to drive, that’s okay. They can serve as an extra set of eyes on the road, as well as a gauge to measure your signs of fatigue as the driver. Typically when a passenger feels tired, that means the driver is just as sleepy. When you feel this way, it’s time to find an alternate method to staying awake, or to take a break. Speaking of breaks…
  • Take five. There’s absolutely no shame in pulling over to rest on your journey. It’s important to pull over in a safe place so that you can rest peacefully and quietly. Keep your eyes peeled for Wal-Marts along your route! Many of them have a designated space for drivers to park and rest, some even offering over-night parking for campers and large trucks.
  • Drink up. Coffee is easily accessible when you’re out on the road. Stronger brews, like Italian and French roasts, and espressos contain an average of 100 mg of caffeine, the ingredient that will help keep your mind alert. Tea is another caffeinated option that can help you stay awake. It should be noted that copious amounts of caffeine aren’t good for your health, so always use this option as a last resort and of course, do so in moderation. As a general rule of thumb, it’s safe to consume about 400mg a day.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water during your trip will help keep your body hydrated. If you’re riding a motorcycle, this is especially important. Dehydration can cause dizziness, confusion, and slower reaction times, which can ultimately lead to problems on the road. Pack a cooler with enough water to get you through your trip, or at least to a rest stop or halfway point where you can replenish your stock. This way, when you’re out and about, you won’t have to worry about making a stop.
  • Choose an interesting route. If you’re entertained by the sights and sounds that surround you on your journey, your mind is more likely to stay stimulated and thus, alert. Taking a route you are unfamiliar with will stimulate your brain because it will require different steering patterns, gear changes, and break applications. This also helps lessen the use of cruise control, which makes it easy for drivers to zone out.
  • Plan stops. It is just as important to plan your stops as it is to plan the route you’re going to take. It’s amazing what a stretch and a little fresh air can do to stimulate your system. If you make a point to step every 100 miles or so and give your body a chance to stretch, this can help you stay awake while driving. You can also re-up on protein-packed snacks and drinks, if necessary.
  • Snack smart. When you stop for meals or quick snack breaks, be smart about what you’re eating. Meals laden with carbohydrates an make you feel tired and lethargic. Instead, opt for smaller meals and snacks packed with fiber and protein.

Whether you’re riding a motorcycle or operating a heavy freight truck, it’s important to stay vigilant on the roads.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car or motorcycle accident, contact Flager & Associates, PC today.

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