Don’t Drive Drowsy: 5 Important Tips to Stay Alert at the Wheel

We all know the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but many people forget that driving while tired can be just as dangerous. When people are tired, their focus is impaired, and their response time is negatively impacted. Some people nod off and appear as if they are driving drunk. Here’s how to avoid finding yourself too tired to drive.

  • Hydrate – Although people gravitate to coffee and energy drinks when trying to stay awake and alert, these are only a quick, temporary fix. Just like sugar, caffeine will work temporarily, but when it wears off, it can leave you feeling even more exhausted. Staying hydrated is more effective for a longer time. Studies show that drinking 16-32 ounces of water immediately after waking up helps you become more alert faster and stay feeling alert longer. Instead of stopping for that extra cup of java, try drinking a couple glasses of water before that next trip and give yourself a little more time for an extra bathroom pit stop.
  • Eat Right – Many people reach for sugary treats for that quick pick me up when they start to get tired. Although it does work initially, the “sugar high” wears off quickly, leaving you more tired than before – the “crash and burn”. To avoid literally crashing, choose healthy, small snacks low in processed sugar and high in protein. They are more apt to keep you alert and give you more consistent energy. Nuts, fruit, or granola paired with that bottle of water are much better choices for extended car rides.
  • Cat Nap – Taking cat naps have been proven to give us a “second wind.” If you are unable to take a short siesta before that next car ride and find yourself nodding off, accept defeat. Pull off at the next safe spot, lean that seat back and doze for 15 to 20 minutes. Any longer and you might go into a deep sleep causing you to wake up groggy and more tired than before.
  • Know Your Danger Zone – We all have times of day when we are more tired. If 3-5pm is your danger zone, try to avoid driving during this time if you can. If you must drive at that time, drink extra water and eat a healthy snack before you hit the road.
  • Share Driving – When possible, it is always a good idea to share driving with someone else. Even if you prefer to be the driver, allowing someone to drive for even an hour will give you that necessary break to recharge.

Driving drowsy is not something to take lightly. Just like planning ahead and having that designated driver or Uber ready to go after indulging in a couple cocktails, planning ahead and having a solid game plan to avoid falling asleep at the wheel is another important responsibility to keep our roadways safe.