How to Avoid Drowsy Driving - Vol.397
Being drowsy behind the wheel isn't only unpleasant - it can be dangerous. Drowsy driving can make you feel more stressed and more impatient. It can also make you drive faster. Together with drunk driving and distracted driving, it's one of the leading causes of serious accidents. According to Australian and European data, drowsy driving could account for up to 30% of all crashes.
What You Can Do
Avoiding drowsy driving can be a bigger challenge than avoiding drunk driving. While you can consciously choose not to drink before you drive, you cannot choose not to be drowsy. Sometimes drowsiness can creep on you on the road.
Still, there are many things you can do to avoid being drowsy while driving. Here are some of the most effective strategies you can use to drive safe.
- Take a good night's sleep before you drive
Sleeping at least seven or eight hours a night will give your body enough time to rest. Even if you have to drive later in the day, the cumulative effect of sleeping well for a few nights in a row will help you be more rested.
By contrast, if you sleep only a few hours, you're bound to feel drowsy later in the day regardless of the strategies you use.
- Take a pre-drive nap
Even a quick nap will help prevent drowsiness at night. However, don't expect to be able to drive all night. You'll still need to stop and rest after a few hours of driving at most.
The good news is that pulling over to a safe place to take a 20-minute nap in your car can keep you going for a few hours more. That said, give yourself at least 20 minutes to fully wake up after your second nap.
- Avoid medication that can make you drowsy
If you're undergoing a treatment that comes with side effects that include drowsiness, consider stopping it in time for a long drive. However, if the treatment is essential to your well-being, ask someone else to drive you instead, or choose another mode of transport. Take a plane if you have to.
- Don't drive between 00:00 - 02:00 am and 4:00 - 6:00
Crashes are highly like to occur during these hours, according to drowsydriving.org. These are hours when our bodies are used to feeling drowsy, so there's not much you can do about it. When you have no choice but to drive between these hours, remember to take frequent breaks.
- Don't drink
Even a small quantity of alcohol - like half a glass of beer - can make you drowsy. Even if you don't exceed the maximum blood alcohol concentration, your driving ability will still be impaired. Alcohol may appear to have a sobering effect, but the drowsiness that always follows is a stronger and longer-lasting effect.
- Take in a good dose of caffeine
Caffeine improves alertness and concentration and can ward off drowsiness and sleep. Apart from coffee, you'll find it in black tea, green tea, dark chocolate, and non-alcoholic energy drinks. That said, mind your doses. Too much caffeine can induce a state of irritation and raise your blood pressure.
Also, remember that the effects of caffeine tend to wear off after a few hours. It's then that drowsiness can make a stronger return.
Finally, you can only avoid drowsiness while driving up to a certain point. If your body is tired or undergoing treatment, you have to listen to the cue it's giving you and stop driving. Pull over to the side of the road, in a safe place, and give yourself the gift of sleep. It's better to reach your destination late than not at all, don't you agree?