It’s something every driver dreads: falling asleep at the wheel.
I’ve done my fair share of long-haul, solo road trips. Feeling like I could fall asleep at the wheel is one of the scarier moments I’ve had on the road.
Driving while drowsy is a dangerous thing, and some studies suggest the loss of a night’s sleep is equivalent to blowing a 0.19 BAC. So what can drivers do if they’re feeling drowsy?
Remember: there is no substitute for sleep. These tips should be used to stay awake only to find a place safely to get some much needed rest.
Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine
Don’t wait; caffeinate. Stop for some coffee or an energy drink ASAP. Just remember that caffeine always comes with a crash, so it’s a short-term fix at best.
And while you’re at it . . .
Get out and move
While stopped, walk around a bit to get the blood flowing. Do some jumping jacks; stretch. And don’t forget to breathe. Anything to get extra oxygen circulating.
Don’t go overboard, of course—there’s no need to do a full workout. Just do enough to let the caffeine take effect. Ten to fifteen minutes should do the trick.
Don’t be afraid to stop as much as needed. Even if the ride has a deadline, it’s more important to make it there safely than to try and push it.
Turn up the music
Playing some music could provide drivers with a kick as long as it’s the right genre. I don’t recommend easy listening, anything ambient or downtempo compositions. The louder, the better.
Blast the A/C
Get some cold air flowing to increase alertness.
But most importantly . . .
Know when to quit
If it becomes too difficult to stay awake, don’t try to force it. Pull over to a safe distance and take a 20 minute power nap. It could just provide the extra boost of energy needed to make it to the finish line.
But if a nap won’t cut it, find the nearest hotel, motel, campground or rest stop and get some shut eye.
Pro-tip: many Walmart parking lots allow overnight RV parking. If there are no hotels or campgrounds nearby, it’s a safe bet for most drivers (with or without an RV) as long as some discretion is used. Park, recline and catch some zees.
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