We all know how important it is to stay focused on the road when you're driving. Unfortunately, whether you're on a long trip, following the same route every day, or a little drowsy after a sleepless night, letting your mind wander is dangerously easy. It's always a scary moment when you look around and realize you passed the road you were heading towards without even noticing. What else did you miss? So how can you stay awake and alert while driving?
Don't skimp on sleep
This may be stating the obvious, but you need to regularly get a good night's sleep to be alert throughout the day. The health damage caused by lack of sleep is well documented, but did you know that driving tired is as dangerous as driving drunk? If all the ways sleep can benefit your health isn't enough of a motivator to get to bed earlier, maybe avoiding a car accident will be.
It's hard to doze off when the bass is pumping on your favorite CD. Listening to upbeat music that you love is refreshing and invigorating, and can help keep you going for as long as you need it to. Just don't get so lost in the music that you lose track of your speed or miss your exit!
One of the many benefits of drinking enough fluids each day is staying energized. Water is required for practically every process in your body. Bringing a bottle of water with you for even short drives is a smart habit to get into. Staying hydrated on a long drive can also help prevent dry eyes, which are a common problem on long car trips.
When you're driving home from work at night, and you're struggling to keep your eyes open, roll down the windows. The fresh air blasting through your stuffy car will wake you right up. Then you can take a sip from that water bottle, turn up the radio, and power through the rest of your drive.
On a long road trip, you may have used all of the previous tips and still have miles to go. It may be time for drastic measures - caffeine and/or sugar. Now this tip is not something you should rely on every day, but packing a caffeinated drink and some sugary or carbohydrate rich snacks is a good idea for an all-day road trip. A soda and a candy bar might not be good for your figure, but they may keep you more alert and safe on the road. So find a nice place to pull over and have a snack. To be honest, a thermos of brewed black tea and an apple would probably work too!
Another great strategy for longer solo road trips is to map out and schedule rest stops and phone calls. It's easier to psyche yourself up to stay focused for the next half an hour until you get to a scheduled rest stop than it is to stay focused for the whole trip. And if someone is waiting for you to call and check in when you get there, you'll have no excuse to skip the stop to save time. Better to arrive a few minutes late than to not arrive at all.
In a perfect world, you would get eight hours of sleep a night, leave work on time every day, and have plenty of energy for it all. Since we don't live in that perfect world, try these tips to stay alert, awake, and safe while driving.