Are you short on sleep? You’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, fatigue is just about at epidemic levels in the U.S. population, with one in every three adults reporting that they don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. That translates into a lot of weary drivers out there on the road.
Fatigued driving can be extremely dangerous and increase the risk of accidents. To combat fatigued driving on your next road trip, consider the following strategies:
Get enough sleep
Ensure you get an adequate amount of sleep before embarking on a long drive. Try to sleep for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, especially on any night before a long trip. That will keep you from heading out on the road while you’re already sleep-deprived.
Plan ahead for breaks
Are you going on a long trip? Plan your journey in a way that allows for regular breaks. Take breaks at rest stops or exits every few hours to rest and recharge. Use these breaks to stretch, walk around and get some fresh air.
Share driving responsibilities
If possible, share your driving duties with someone else – particularly on long trips. This allows for alternating driving shifts, giving each person an opportunity to rest.
Avoid alcohol and medication
Avoid consuming alcohol before driving, as even a small amount can increase drowsiness. Be cautious, also, when taking medications that cause drowsiness, especially if you aren’t sure how your body may react.
Stay hydrated and eat light
Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout your journey. Opt for light, healthy snacks instead of heavy fast food, as heavy meals can induce drowsiness. Caffeinated drinks can also give your alertness level a temporary boost.
Take power naps
If you start feeling drowsy during your drive, find a safe place to pull over, such as a rest area or parking lot, and take a short power nap. A nap of 15-20 minutes can provide a temporary boost of alertness that can get you home.
Recognize the signs of fatigue
Learn to recognize common signs of fatigue. If you’re yawning, having trouble focusing your eyes, missing exits or you find yourself drifting out of your lane, it’s important to take immediate action and address your fatigue.
Remember, if you find yourself struggling to stay awake while driving, prioritize safety. It’s better to pull over and delay your journey than to end up causing a wreck.