If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of being immensely tired behind the wheel of a car or van, you’ll know how unnerving it is.
It’s more common than you might think. A 2018 survey revealed that one in eight UK drivers admit falling asleep at the wheel. The consequences don’t bear thinking about.
If you’ve got a long drive ahead, or some seriously early starts which require you to drive somewhere without the benefit of a full night’s sleep, there are a few things you can do to ensure you don’t drop off at the wheel…
How to recognise when you might fall asleep while driving
Tiredness can creep up on you quicker than you might think, but there are some common signs that you might be in danger of falling asleep at the wheel, including:
- the inability to keep your eyes open;
- difficulty focusing on the road ahead;
- trouble keeping your head up;
- repeated yawning;
- constantly wandering, disconnected thoughts; and
- drifting from your lane or hitting rumble strips.
You’re also probably significantly more tired than you think if you can’t remember the last few miles you drove.
It’s a sobering thought.
When you experience any of the above, it’s vital that you find a safe place to pull over, turn off the engine and take a short nap. Just make sure you pick somewhere well-lit, or, ideally, a service station.
However, this isn’t a particularly nice situation to be in, so here are five tips for preventing yourself from reaching that point.
Find yourself a driving buddy
Clearly, this won’t always be possible, depending on the reason for the trip, but if you can take someone along for the ride, they’ll help immeasurably when it comes to maintaining your sense of awareness.
What’s more, if it’s a particularly long drive, you can share the driving and grab that all-important nap time when it’s your turn to chill out.
Long-haul drivers use this strategy all the time, and it could work perfectly for you, too.
Play your favourite playlist
One of the best ways to stay focused and alert is to put on your favourite playlist. Just make sure it’s as upbeat as possible.
This can work particularly well if you choose a bunch of songs to which you know the words. That way, you can sing along and stimulate your brain. Rock music and dance music lend themselves to giving you energy. Classical music might not be useful in this instance.
It also gives you an excuse to create a few driving playlists on which you can call whenever you have a long drive ahead.
Fit in a nap beforehand
If a long night’s sleep isn’t possible, a quick nap is a great idea. In fact, nothing really substitutes that kind of restful time when it comes to readying yourself for a long drive.
If you’ve got an hour to spare, great, but if you can only slot in a twenty-minute power nap, you’ll be amazed by how much fresher and alert you feel afterwards.
Drink some coffee
Caffeine is a great stimulant for most people. It’s important not to get carried away, but the right amount will keep you fighting fit during a long drive.
You have two options here; either make sure you have a decent-sized coffee before you head off or fill up the flask and take one with you.
Research suggests that just a small amount of caffeine can lower your risk of crashing during a long drive. And there’s caffeine in chocolate, so that’s good news too.
Time your drive just right
Again, this may not be possible if the drive is related to your livelihood or if timings are important, but if there’s some flexibility for when you leave, make use of it.
Long drives need to be planned. Certainly, it pays to think ahead so that you don’t inadvertently start driving at a time when, three hours later, you’d normally be heading to bed.
If you can, time your long drive after plenty of rest and with plenty of the day ahead; your mind and body will thank you for it.
If you follow our tips above, you’ll be far safer driving long distances. And, if you need a van to undertake the task, remember that you only need to contact the friendly team at Squab for the most affordable price and best vehicle!