Late spring and summer means vacations that often involve long drives. While the first hour or so of driving is filled with anticipation of your much deserved vacation, the remainder of the road trip can become tedious and lead to fatigue or even drowsiness. To ensure that your vacation is a safe one, here are six pointers on staying alert on your long drive:
Combat Sleepiness with Sleeping
The most potent antidote to drowsiness is sleep. That means getting plenty of sleep the night before your trip. Whenever you start feeling drowsy, pull over at a safe spot, such as a rest area, and take a fifteen to twenty minute nap. Try following the nap with a coffee. Or, if you’re traveling with others, try swapping drivers.
Know the Signs of Drowsiness
Besides heavy eyelids, repeated yawning and nodding off, other signs of drowsiness include not remembering the last five minutes of driving, mistakes such as missing exits, disconnected thoughts and drifting into another lane. Don't just roll down the window or turn up the radio; look for a place to get off the road.
Drive During Your Normal Waking Hours
People have a natural wake/sleep cycle. Rather than fight against it, let it work for you. Plan your driving so that you're on the road during the day, and sleeping seven to eight hours at night.
Plan Regular Breaks
Rather than waiting until you're about to fall asleep before pulling over, plan a rest stop every two to four hours, even if you don't feel particularly tired. The rest stops are also a welcome break from the tedium of constant driving. This is a great chance to use the restroom and try some of the local cuisine.
If you're alone and feeling drowsy but haven't reached a rest area yet, use an old truck driver trick and chew a stick of gum or place a piece of candy in your mouth. The desire to sleep is a powerful instinct, but so is the body's desire to eat. Actively chewing something in your mouth is a short-term solution for staying awake until you can safety pull over for a break. Cooling down the inside of your car will also help.
Alert driving means being smart about how you drive. Follow the above tips, make sure your car insurance is up-to-date and enjoy your vacation.
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