According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), falling asleep while driving causes up to 6,000 fatalities in the U.S. each year. While everyone has bad days with little rest from time to time, don’t risk lives by climbing into the driver’s seat drowsy.
If long-distance driving is your job, you may not have a choice, but it’s wise to recognize the difference between being slightly tired and too exhausted to make quick decisions. If you’re so fatigued that your response time is slower than normal, it’s not worth risking your lives or the lives of others by getting behind the wheel, even if it jeopardizes your job.
Here are tips for staying awake and
safe when you're driving, compiled by
Ways to stay awake while driving
If you absolutely must drive after a
restless night, take precautions to stay awake before you get behind the wheel.
Assess if driving is truly necessary
Although you may not think straight if excessively tired, take a moment to consider if driving in a drowsy condition is really worth the risk.
You could always call in sick or late to work, and rescheduling plans is often an option. If on a
long drive, pull over to nap or ask a passenger to take over if possible.
Drink caffeine to wake up
A cup of coffee could provide just the jolt you need to drive a short distance safely.
Be aware that this is a temporary solution, and stop the car if you notice the caffeine wearing off and you have difficulty keeping your eyes open.
Eat a small snack
Like caffeine, a small snack of 100 to 200 calories can provide a burst of energy without making you feel more sluggish.
Stay away from purely sugary snacks that will cause an energy crash in a short while, and opt for protein or slow-digesting carbohydrates.
Sit up straight
If you sit up straight, you're more likely to stay awake than if you slouch or sit in a cozy position. Constantly make sure you have a good sitting posture.
If you can, you should move around to get your blood pumping again. Pull over and do some jumping jacks or run in place to invigorate yourself.
Sing along to your favorite songs
This method is a little unconventional, but you might have an easier job staying awake if you're singing while driving.
Focusing on lyrics and singing along will engage your mind and help stop the lull of driving while tired.
Engage the senses
You will feel more alert with the more senses you can engage while driving. Turn up the radio or talk with a passenger. Roll down the window to feel a cool, invigorating breeze.
Warning: Be aware that drinking
alcohol or taking certain medications before driving can increase your feelings of drowsiness. Always refrain from alcoholic beverages before a drive, and check medication labels for side effect warnings before making a poor decision to drive under the influence.
If you're asking yourself the question of how to stay awake while driving, chances are that it's a risk you shouldn't take.
Strongly consider getting rest before your drive because even a short nap could mean the difference between arriving at your destination safely and making a costly and potentially fatal mistake.