Did you know that fatigue can have the same impact on your driving ability as alcohol? Studies have shown that going without sleep for 17 hours is the same as having a blood-alcohol content of 0.05. If you don’t want to have an accident because of your tiredness on the road, here are 10 important tips to avoid driver fatigue.
1. Keep It Cool
A warm car will make you sleepy. A cold car will keep you alert. While you don’t have to turn your vehicle into an arctic zone, cranking the air conditioner a few settings higher than usual can keep you on the edge of discomfort and therefore more alert than a comfortably toasty vehicle.
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2. Play Games
Count the yellow cars on the road. Try to memorize license plates with a single glance. You don’t have to change the world with your driving games; as long as it keeps your brain engaged, it’s worth the trouble.
3. Don’t Listen to Music
If you’re feeling sleepy behind the wheel, you might be tempted to blast something loud and angry to keep your eyes open. This is a mistake! Familiar music can have a trance-like effect on your brain that diminishes your fine motor control, and it doesn’t matter what genre it is. Heavy metal won’t keep you focused any more than soft jazz. Listen to the radio instead.
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4. Move Your Body
The next time you’re stuck at a red light, take advantage of the moment and stretch, flex, bend your knees, roll your joints and wiggle in your seat. Physical activity will get your heart beating and your blood pumping, and you’ll be much less likely to fall asleep afterward.
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5. Crunch Some Candy
Your dentist might be angry with you, but candy is a great way to stay focused and avoid driver fatigue. Not only will its sugar give you energy, but its crunch will make noise and require a chewing effort that keeps your body working and awake.
6. Take a Break
If the tug of sleep is absolutely irresistible, there’s no shame in pulling over and taking a catnap. It’s better to do it under the shade of a rest stop than in the middle of three-lane traffic!
7. Adjust Your Seat
Raise your seat height. Push your seat back. Give yourself more or less leg room. It doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable position; it only needs to be new. Unique experiences will force your brain to pay attention to their surroundings.
8. Use the Buddy System
The next time you’re planning a long trip, arrange to contact a friend or co-worker at periodic intervals. It’ll be something to look forward to during a long, boring drive, and your friends can also come to your defense if something happens and you need to contact a lawyer after an accident.
9. Roll Down the Window
In addition to the sights, sounds and smells that will waft through your window and keep you awake, rolling down your car window will also give you a burst of pure oxygen. Fresh air is a great balm for fuzzy-minded drivers, so don’t be afraid to crank the window all the way down.
10. Say No to Cruise Control
Cruise control is the worst thing that can happen to a fatigued driver. Not only does it lessen your focus on your surroundings, but it takes away the innate sense of accountability you feel as a driver. Treat cruise control like the plague if you’re worried about having an accident on the road.
These are just a few tips to avoid driver fatigue. If you’re prone to sleepiness behind the wheel, use these ideas to keep yourself awake, alert and ready for action.